“19 My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.”
Most of us would agree that we struggle putting this passage into action. Naturally, our flesh conducts the exact opposite of this passage; we are slow to listen, quick to speak, and the result is quick to anger. I am always reminded of the saying, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason!” This should be a constant reminder to place more of our focus on listening instead of speaking.
In this passage, James is also showing us how to receive the Word of God. As believers, we cannot do enough good or work hard enough to earn God’s purification. Matthew 7:15-20 says, “15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” We must be bearers of good fruit!
In order to bear witness as believers and bear good fruit, we must prepare our hearts to receive the Word. As believers, we should always be quick to hear God’s voice – be “at the ready!” I am afraid that many fail to hear God’s voice because we fail to draw near to Him. Do you find yourself spiritually stagnate? Reevaluate what you are spiritually feeding yourself and fill yourself with the pure spiritual milk of the Word.
James continues to note that we should be “slow to speak” and in turn preparing our hearts to receive the Word. The more we speak, the more we find ourselves reinforcing our own intelligence and thereby relying on self! Proverbs 10:19 says, “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” – Enough said!
Finally, James reminds us to be slow to anger. The evil one uses the spirit of anger to cause such terrible divisions within our churches, families, friends, communities, nations, people groups, etc. The destructive nature of anger produces the exact opposite of what Christ is building up within us. James encourages us to prepare our hearts to receive the Word just as a well-tended garden. Remember, this takes daily work!
Question: How will you begin to prepare your hearts to receive the Word in order to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger?