James 1: 19-20

Jeff Cutts
Jeff Cutts

'My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.' James 1: 19-20

I first remember looking at this verse when I was abroad with a Christian mission. It's funny, I remember seeing people trying to communicate in a foreign language, and when they could not be understood they would become really frustrated and just shout louder!

Sometimes God's word comes to us bright and clear, with a message that is nice and simple - which, if we obey it will keep us from all kinds of trouble - this is one of those verses!

The first thing to learn, being quick to hear, and slow to speak.

Do you find yourself opening your mouth before you engage your brain? That's a sure way to hurt and offend people! Here's a clue for you, two ears and one mouth... Hmmm, perhaps listening is more important than speaking?

More than that we should beware - Proverbs 18: 21 tells us that 'the power of life and death are in the tongue'. That means our words can do damage big time if we let loose with words full of death. The Bible also says that we will give an account to God of every idle word we have spoken (Matthew 12: 36).

On the plus side, just as God created the heavens and earth and everything in them by speaking, so our words can be full of life, encouragement, forgiveness and truth. Listening to the Spirit of God first will allow us to speak these words of life in any situation.

The second half of our verse teaches us to be slow to become angry, man's anger does not produce the righteousness of God. Two wrongs don't make a right, you might say.

Don't let yourself have a short fuse - don't blow up at the slightest thing (another sure way to hurt and offend!) If you have a problem with anger then you need to ask God to fix it in you, He can.

Sometimes there are things that will wind us up, even something unjust where we are quite in our rights to become angry. So the other thing is not to act out of anger. Romans 12: 19 says 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord' - that means we don't take revenge, we allow God to sort things out, trusting that He will honour our faithfulness to Him. If we take things into our own hands acting out of anger in a situation our verse says that the end result is not the righteous outcome God wants, it brings harm, not good.

So my friends, be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Listen, and when you have heard, then speak the words you have heard from God.

Angry? Listen, when you have heard then act on what you have heard from the heart of God. CR

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