READING: Ezekiel 11-13, James 1
“Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
I wonder how many heartaches I might have avoided had I just listened to the Word of God. I’m not the best listener, as I tend to propose answers without really hearing the problem. Too often, I move quickly into “fixer” mode before I know what the real issue is. I’m a preacher of the Word, so my word is wrapped up in my words – and I fear I like to hear myself speak more than I listen well to others. Moreover, I recognize that anger too easily wells up in my soul. I work hard to keep it in check, and few people know this truth about me – but it’s in my blood. Sometimes I’ve not been the best pastor/shepherd because I’ve not listened well, have spoken too quickly, and have reacted in anger. If only I had listened to the Word: “My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness” (James 1:19-20).
It all fits together, actually. Being “quick to hear” speaks as much about being ready to hear the Word of God as it is to hear others. Particularly when we face stressful situations or difficulties, we’re wise to quietly listen to the counsel we gain from the Scriptures and from other believers. In fact, we must be “quick to listen,” indicating that we’re making the active choice to listen well. To meet that expectation, we usually need to speak less; to put it simply, It’s increasingly hard to listen well when you’re talking all the time. Hasty speech is often the product of hasty anger, so James also reminds us to be “slow to anger.” Unhealthy anger accomplishes nothing; it neither reflects righteousness nor helps others be righteous. On the other hand, when we are careful to monitor our anger, we should likewise find it easier to control our unhelpful verbal responses toward others.
Frankly, it would be easy for me today to write this devotion, review it, post it, and not give it much more thought. If I do that, though, I will have missed its point. James 1 is the Word of God, and I need to be quick to listen to it today.
- Review the three areas of your life today: quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Determine on which one you need to work the most.
- Listen well to God’s Word today.
PRAYER: “Lord, make me listen well to Your Word. Keep me quiet, and let me hear it today.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Ezekiel 14-15, James 2