Quick to Listen, Slow To Speak
“Therefore my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20
I have rarely found myself in trouble when I’ve just listened. In contrast, when I get into conflict it is most often a result of something I have said. As I examine those instances I can usually see it was a result of me not listening clearly and speaking – dare I say reacting – to something in a way which didn’t help anyone.
That’s why this admonition of the Apostle James strikes home with me. He gives us three commands in quick order. We are to be 1) quick to listen, 2) slow to speak and 3) slow to wrath (or anger). It’s the relationship trifecta. Doing these three will help us produce the “righteousness of God.”
I submit to you these three commands are not meant to be stand-alone elements but are really three steps, to be taken in progression.
Quick To Listen
We are first to listen. It is to be the first thing we do, listen. Some of us are better at this than others, but listening is an acquired skill. It takes some determined effort to just listen to someone, especially if we have a point of disagreement with them. We need to listen first before anything else is done.
Proverbs 18:13 says this another way; “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him”.
Slow To Speak
The next step is to be slow in our response. I suppose there are exceptions to this, but most of the time we need to be slow to speak. We need to think about what we’ve heard, formulate our thoughts and then speak.
Jesus said in Luke 6:45 “Out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.” In context He is speaking about one bearing positive fruit especially in areas of conflict. What we say (or how we respond) under stress is very revealing about our character.
Slow To Wrath (Anger)
The final step in this three tiered progression is to be slow to anger or wrath. This is not just a simple annoyance, but it can often begin as just that – a simple point of irritation that, left unattended, can lead to anger, even rage. If we’ve listened fully and spoken thoughtfully, the less likely it is that we become angry.
Notice how these three progressive steps lead us to produce the righteousness of God as opposed to the wrath of man. James pushes us throughout his writing that we are to be different, full of good works, speech and treat each other in a positive manner. By following these steps and being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger, we better reflect the righteousness of God.
Blessings my friend!