READING: Ezekiel 16-17, James 1-2
I wonder how much pain among Christian believers would never have happened if all of us listened to and follow James’ simple command: “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness” (James 1:19-20). To be “quick to listen” is, simply stated, to be quiet more than we speak. It means to listen attentively and patiently to others, including those among us who are less fortunate. It is to decide to listen first, and then to give our undivided attention to someone else who needs to speak with us.
Coupled with the words about “being quick to listen” are these words: “[Be] slow to speak.” I’d be ashamed today to list times I’ve spoken words I wish I hadn’t said. Nevertheless, I’m thinking of the times, for example, when I talked back to my mother. Times I jumped to wrong conclusions because I spoke too quickly. Advice I gave without really seeking God’s wisdom. Responding in quick anger and emotion rather than with patience and love. I could list other examples, but here’s my point: it would often do me good to count to 10 before I speak.
The command to be “slow to anger” doesn’t mean anger is never justified, but it does mean that we must consider our heart and our motives before we respond in a situation that might demand a response of anger. Unjustified anger is often selfish and misdirected—and that kind of response doesn’t point to God and His righteousness. So, today, “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
PRAYER: “God, help me to respond in appropriate ways to everything today.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Ezekiel 18:1-20:31, James 3:1-4:12