James 1:19 tells us we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. So many lessons done on this verse! And so many people still can’t figure it out. So many people don’t listen. We only give the other person an allotted time to speak, all the while not taking in anything they’re saying and only thinking about what we are going to say next. We hear the sounds coming out of their mouths, but don’t truly listen. We just jump in with our opinion, with the first things we were thinking, while not actively listening or considering what the other person is saying. Communication is give and take. We are also all so scared of “awkward silence”, we are afraid to let the conversation lag even for a second, resulting in less time to think about and formulate a well thought out response.
Then if anyone does not completely agree with us 100%, we get aggressive. Instead of listening to one another in love, we jump on each other in anger. This is, unarguably, counterproductive. Our conversation companion will either 1) get angry also and dig in and push back; 2) cower down in fear and shut down; 3) dismiss us as unstable and immature. Either way, they stop listening to us as well, especially if it happens often.
Verse 20 tells us that being angry does not provide the righteousness God desires. He would have us teach each other with love and grace and mercy. We are human – God created us with emotions and passion. We must learn to control it and use it as He would have us. How can we teach if we don’t listen? How can we show people the love of Jesus if we lash out in anger? God has planted His word and His Word in our hearts. It can save not only our souls but the souls of those around us. We are a vessel of God’s goodness, to be a light to the world. He doesn’t need us to act as a self-righteous judge and jury. He needs us to be humble servants doing His will. Actively doing – not hearing only, as we see in verse 22.
What is His will? What are His commands? Mark 12:29-31 tells us that He wants us to love Him and love each other. Adding the “doing” to that, we can’t just claim to love, we have to actually show it. If we look only at ourselves, we start to focus too much on ourselves. We forget Whose image we are supposed to reflect (*hint – it’s not our own!). We see only ourselves. Then when others look at us, they won’t see His image, either. If we follow His Word, we will not only be blessed, we will also be a blessing to others.