Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19, 20 (ESV)
Often these verses are applied to personal relationships or marriage. You’ve heard this one…”God gave you two ears and one mouth so you should be twice as much a listener as a talker.” Not bad advice, really – the application of this wisdom could help all of us. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, it’s not the primary thing that the verse is referring to. So what is it about? In other words, exactly what source should we be quick to hear from? Context helps here. Consider the verse that comes immediately before:
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. James 1:18 (ESV)
And then consider the verse that comes immediately after:
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21 (ESV)
Yes, we should be good listeners at the office. And yes, I should be quick to hear Diane’s viewpoint; and she, mine. Yes, to the wisdom of two ears and one mouth. But the primary thing we are called to be quick to listen to…is the Word of God. This interpretation is further confirmed when we read in verse 22 that we should “be doers of the word, and not hearers only”. Understanding verse 19 as referring to the Bible gives us more to chew on. In other words, not only should we be quick to listen, but we should also be slow to share our own opinions outside of the Book. And anger? Anger at the many ways God’s word “cramps our style” keeps us from having the meekness necessary to receive the implanted word.
So, whatever other voices are in our lives, we must be quick to listen to one main voice – the Word of God. What a great truth this is. So often we are tempted to look for wisdom in other places besides the Word. We latch on to the opinions of men. We sail on the prevailing winds of the culture.
But above all, we must be quick to hear from God…in His word.
I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. Psalm 119:99 (ESV)
For Wednesday, November 4th: James 2