“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
(James 1:19-20 ESV)
We all have something to say. In fact, we have an opinion about everything. And we do all that we can to make sure it’s heard.
We express ourselves verbally as we visit with our friends. We do so as we chat on the phone or take part in meetings. We do so by posting our thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and every other online resource. We even go as far as arguing with complete strangers.
In short, we are quick to speak. We’re quick to run off at the mouth. We’re quick to say things that ought not be said.
We also tend to be slow to hear. We have so much to say, we have so much that we want everyone else to hear, that we fail to listen to others. We fail to hear what they are expressing. We fail to hear what they what to be heard.
Lastly, we are quick to anger. We get upset about everything. We feel slighted by the most minor offense.
These feelings of anger often result from our unwillingness to listen to what others are trying to say. They result from a rush to judgment on our part. We assume the worst of others, allowing these feelings of anger to well up within us.
This is a problem. It’s a problem, James tells us, because the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. It leads us, instead, into sin.
Our anger causes us to lash out. It leads us to say hurtful things. It may even lead us to damage the reputation of another.
We’re quick to label everything as “righteous anger.” But few things truly fall into that category. Our anger erupts as we entertain only our feelings and accusations. It erupts as we’re slow to forgive someone who has wronged us, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Let us, then, heed the words of James. Let’s speak only after we’ve heard. Let’s speak only after we’ve had time to consider.
Even if we have to bite our tongue, let’s make an effort to do so. Let us hear people out. And let us be quick to understand and to forgive when necessary.