James 1:19-20 – “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” NKJV
A number of years ago I had a member of the congregation that I was leading tell me regarding some incident that has just taken place in his life, “I don’t get mad I get even.” I asked if he believed that was God’s way and his reply was, “I don’t know but it’s my way.” Among other passages of scripture that I called to his attention was this one from James. He was unflinching in his resolve to exact a pound of flesh from the person that had caused him a wound and nothing I could say changed his mind. I prayed for that man over this issue until the day of his death and so far as I know he never altered that view.
James warns or encourages us depending on how you view it how we should interact with other people. He tells us that we should be SWIFT TO HEAR. That would be beautiful if it were not so contrary to our natural human mindset that many find it almost impossible. Most are either anxiously framing their response to what is being said without really listening or they are so absorbed with what the points they want to make that they do not hear anyone or anything else. He also said we are to be SLOW TO SPEAK. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me, “Well, I just say what is on my mind and let the chips fall where they may.” That may sound good but is it really the heart and mind of God. Sometimes SILENCE is the right response and the Bible makes it crystal clear that “a soft answer turns away wrath.” Usually, that statement (speaking the mind) is made by a person who justifies saying whatever they want to say as though it were a pious thing when it is laden with self and selfishness. It does not consider the other brother or sister or even the situation it only gives a release for the individual to SPEAK THEIR MIND.
James continues and tells us that “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” If we speak in anger the chances are we will say things that we will later wish we could take back but you cannot retrieve words. Once they are released into the atmosphere they are there forever and sadly, we will hear them played back one day when we stand before God. The only solution is to bring them under the Blood of Jesus and washed away and that requires repentance. No wonder the Bible tells us to “not let the sun go down on our anger.” If you allow it to fester in your heart, it will permeate your thought processes and become part of your reasoning and interaction with others and eventually will produce a poison that will damage you and others around you. It will cost you relationships, peace of mind, and possibly even the fulfillment of the purposes of God for your life.
If we learn to LISTEN and carefully weigh our words and diffuse anger we will see God’s Righteousness shine forth into the situation and what God can do in an instant we could never accomplish in two lifetimes. So, I encourage everyone to become HEARERS and not just SPEAKERS or DOERS.
May God bless you and be with you as you go through your day!