Verse: James 1:19
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

I think you should read that verse again.

I’ve read it over and over again today. It’s hard to argue with. And it’s also hard to do.

I feel like every time I have a conversation with someone that I think might be slightly confrontational, I should carry this verse on a piece of paper and read it the whole time.

Quick to Listen: I tend to speak before I listen. And if I listen, I tend to be thinking about what I will speak next, instead of listening carefully. Do you do this? It is love to truly listen. It is pride to listen just enough to make sure I can combat what they are saying.

Slow to Speak: Wait what? I wasn’t listening. Can you say that again? Slow to speak?? Seriously? That is the opposite of everything inside of me. Slow to speak just isn’t who I am. So guess what? I need to die to myself, and come alive to God. I need his grace to learn this skill. I am not naturally someone who listens first and speaks second. For years I have been working on this because of this verse, and I actually think God is changing me (slowly!). I am getting better at consciously not talking and really focusing on what the person is saying. It’s amazing how much easier it is to listen when I actually shut up for a while.

Slow to Become Angry: Right. You know what I’ve learned? If you are quick to speak, you are more likely to be quick to become angry. But if you are quick to listen, you are more likely to be slow to become angry. The quicker I speak (without thinking, without calming myself, without self-control) the more trouble my words get me in. The more likely I am to say things I don’t really mean, or with an edge that is not helpful. Do you find that to be the case?

I think these are in the order they are in on purpose. If you are quick to listen, making listening a priority, then you will be slow to speak. And if you are slow to speak, you’ll be slower to become angry. Read this verse one more time and ask God to help you to not just remember this formula, but put it into practice. Which one is hardest for you?

Author: Christian Dunn