‘My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry’ James 1.19
Most of us can probably relate to feelings of anger. Someone says something and we react, often out of all proportion to what was said! Afterwards we feel guilty and somehow wish we could exercise better self-control.
In this passage, James suggests that by reacting in anger we are choosing to go down one particular path, when there is actually another option we could have chosen - listening to the one who made us angry.
Why did that person speak so harshly? There could be any number of reasons: perhaps they were hurt by something else entirely, or hurt by us or maybe we have misunderstood what they said. Yet without checking these things we react in a way that leaves us feeling bad. This is why James encourages us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Wouldn't we love it if people actually listened to what we said without over-reacting? Let's ponder this and treat others in the same way.
It is interesting that in the following verses James goes on to talk about reading the Bible; how we need to let it touch and change us, rather than simply glossing over the words, thinking we know what it is saying and moving on. In all things we need to be quick to listen.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission
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