“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20
It seems that every time I read this verse, I am convicted of the truth contained within it. I want to think that I have gotten better with anger, with listening, and with speaking, but the truth is that it’s hard to do these things which James speaks of. Inherently, I believe because of our sin nature, we (as humans) want things to be about us. Every time we talk to a friend, we want to hear a compliment from them or have them ask about our lives so we can endlessly talk about ourselves. I find myself doing this sometimes. Then, I realized that acting in this way goes against the very nature of God: selfless, humble, loving, gracious. I am not showing selflessness when I talk endlessly about myself.
It's easy to become angry with people nowadays because we are so privileged. If our food takes longer than a few minutes, we can become upset. If our drive to work takes longer than it should, we get angry at everyone who cut us off. If there is one thing out of place and imperfect, we throw a fit. So you might find yourself asking this question, as I have: “But wait, if it’s so hard, how do we do it? How do we become slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to listen?” I’ll give you the answer the Lord gave me: The Word of God simply says: “be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…”
Simply put, just do it. We cannot learn how to do these things except by doing them. When someone wants to talk to you, stop, still your own tongue, and listen to them. When someone cuts you off on the freeway, don’t become angry at that person. When your spouse comes to you and talks to you about what’s on their mind, hold their hand instead of your phone and listen to them.
Be encouraged today to do what God’s Word has told us to: listen to others with a gracious and loving heart, be slow to respond and think of how you speak, and show love rather than anger to all people. Remember that Jesus calls us to love each other above all else, and that love is the most important aspect of this life:
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44