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. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:19–21.
Social interaction has certainly changed over the last week or so. Our face-to-face communications involve fewer faces and we have had to resort to texts, phone calls, video chat, and social media. We are feeling the change. This is a perfect time to consider James 1:19-21:
Be quick to hear. Be an aggressive listener. Don’t waste your ears! Start by listening to God’s Word. Don’t just mechanically read it, but instead consider what your Creator is saying. His words matter. Don’t stop there. Listen to the people God has placed in your life. Love them by considering their words with compassion and care.
Be slow to speak. While you are commanded elsewhere to speak the truth in love, the reality is that most of us speak before we love or wrestle with truth. It is time to switch the order and spend your words more wisely. There are questions to answer before you speak. Will my words build up? Do they reflect the fruit of the Spirit? Are they proud or humble?
Be slow to anger. James explains this one in more detail. Anger is to be reserved as the response of the righteous to wrongdoing. The challenge is clear. How many times have you been truly righteous and angry at the same time? Are you always well informed and wise enough in your judgment of wrongdoing? The anger of unrighteous people who are often flawed in their judgment never brings about godly righteousness.
Get rid of the filth. James is reminding us that our anger and our ceaseless need to be heard flow from hearts that are too often immoral and unrighteous. Before we speak our mind or get angry, we need to repent and seek a clean mind and heart. There is a good prayer in Psalm 51 to help you with that.
Humbly receive the gospel. “receive with meekness the implanted word.” If you are a Christian, the word of God’s grace in Christ Jesus has been planted in your soul. Before you deal with other people, remember the gospel. Consider who you were outside of Christ and the fact that you are only in Christ by His grace and mercy. Be humbled by the gospel. Then interact with other people.
I am praying that God will use these strange days to help you grow in Christ, that you will know His blessings today, and that you will be a blessing to others.