New American Standard
This you know, my beloved brethren But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger
Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.
Don’t you love the way The Message just puts it out there?
So now we know where the old adage, “think before you speak” comes from. That’s a hard lesson to learn sometimes. I don’t know about you but often my tongue engages before my brain and then I have to end up backtracking. Not a pretty picture. Could be why God gave us two ears and only one tongue.
I’ve been reading through a number of commentaries on James and all agree that the real lesson behind this verse is about hearing the Word of God. Hiding it in your heart for later. When there are trials, a believer runs to the Word, which provides the comfort. When there are temptations, the believer turns to the Word where there is strength to resist. So being quick to hear is talking about having that desire to hear the Word of God as much as you can. Slow to speak… cautiously, slowly, patiently and with some reluctance would you become the speaker. We’ll see later in James 3:1 that he tells us to be very careful about being a teacher of the Word. Teachers are judged more harshly. OK, I’m outta here. I started this blog, why? Just kidding. I know that God has been working in my heart for awhile about doing this and especially about studying James. This is all good stuff.
Slow to anger… this is in the context of hearing the word of truth. And this implies that there are some people who get hostile against the Word. They don’t like what they hear. When the truth is presented they don’t want to hear it. There is a whole movement that has been around for a long time called secular humanism. Here’s the definition from Wikipidea…Secular Humanism is a secular philosophy that espouses (alludes to) reason, ethics, and the search for human fulfillment, and specifically rejects supernatural and religious dogma as the basis of morality and decision-making. So they would be good examples of those who don’t want to hear what the Word says. They’re rejecting the notion of God and the moral absolutes that He’s put in place since He created the world. That there can’t be anything other than themselves in control. In the words of that great philosopher, Dr. Phil…”How’s that working out for you?”.
So in summary, be anxious to hear and learn God’s word, be slow to start telling other people right away about what you heard until you do more study and meditation on it, and then don’t let what you read or hear anger you. Be submissive to the Word and let it sink in. Exactly why we’re only doing one verse at a time. So we can do just that.
The next section of James, verses 19 – 27 talk about using the Word of God to guide our lives. Verses 19 – 21 talk about hearing and receiving the Word, verses 22 – 25 talk about the doing of the Word, and verses 25 – 27 deal with the application of the Word. It’s interesting to note that the three admonitions in this first verse is also going to be dealt with in greater detail in later verses. Quick to hear, verses 1:22-25, slow to speak, verses 3:1-12, and slow to anger, verses 3:13-18. Hang on, could be a rough ride ahead.