Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (ESV)
This is one of those verses that seems to mean one thing, but upon further reflection, it actually means something else. At first glance we are reminded of the expression, "Silence is golden, duct tape is silver." It is true that we should listen more and speak less. That is a general principle in life. But that is not what this verse is talking about.
James is talking about the Word of God. We are to be quick to hear the Word of God. We are to be slow to speak the Word of God. We are to be slow to be angered at what the Word of God tells us. That is a great challenge for us. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ the Word of God is to be everything in your life. James tells us some key guidelines in how we should respond to it.
In the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6:4) the Jews were given an instruction which is referred to as the "Great Shema" The word Shema is a Hebrew word that is translated "hear." But it has a greater meaning than just hearing. It means hear with the intent to obey. This is the same way in which we should be quick to "hear" the Word of God. Hear with the intent to obey.
So, why should we be slow to speak the Word of God? Consider for a moment the damage that could be done if we quickly speak the Word of God without fully understanding what we are saying? Our words could be damaging to people instead of a help. Scripture tells us that those who teach will be held to a higher accountability. Be sure that when you speak the Word you are speaking truth.
We will look tomorrow more at what is meant by not being angered by the Word of God. Anger is a normal human emotion, but if our heart is right with God we should not be angered at what his Word tells us, even if it is a hard Word for us to hear. The bottom line for us is that we should have a right heart when it comes to our hearing the Word, speaking the Word, and responding to the Word.
Spend some time today in his Word. Hear with the intent to obey. When you feel confident in the truth you have found share it with others, soberly, rightfully handling the truth.
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