Friday, October 19, 2007

James 1:19-20

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

Sometimes we think we know what God is saying to us through His Word. Sometimes what we think He's saying is what He's saying. Other times, however, what we think He's saying isn't really what He's saying at all. Take the above verse for example.

I'm sure that you've heard this verse preached to mean that we need to listen well in conversation, slow to speak in conversation or in an argument, and slow to become angry with others as this would not be beneficial to ourselves or others. After all, we have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak! While this message isn't inherently bad (and it could be excellent advice in some situations), this isn't what God was trying to tell us through James.

In the previous verse James had said, "He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created." So he is speaking of the Word of God when he goes on to the next verse about being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. But what exactly is he saying?

When listening to the Word we need to listen intently, giving respect and reverence to the Word. In being slow to speak, James is telling us not to interrupt the preaching of the Word. And in being slow to anger, we are not to become angry with the Word. Angry with the Word? Yep!

Have you ever read something in Scripture and it simply rubs you the wrong way? It might have to do with your lifestyle, your money, your job, or your relationships. You read it and while you know that the Word is speaking the truth and that it is speaking to you, you'd simply rather overlook that particular portion so that you don't have to be inconvenienced. But inside you might find that a seed of anger has been planted toward the Word - and toward God Himself.

"Who is He to tell me what to do?"

"I've lived my life just fine until now. I don't need any help."

"If I want to change anything in my life, I will, but on my terms."

These or a host of other seeds will lead us down a road that is not healthy for us. When we find ourselves in this situation, we need to ask God to show us what it is that's burning our toast so that He can come with His healing. As James says, man's anger doesn't bring the righteousness that God desires us to have in our lives. It is God's desire that we live in righteousness. And if we will allow God the courtesy of leading and teaching us in His ways, He will lead us into freedom in every area of our lives.

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