This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.
True followers of Jesus are not controlled by appearance or by rules, but by the Word of God. Incidentally, when this happens we are able to control some of our baser impulses. James 1 illustrates this beautifully. We all have a problem with getting angry and listening, to one degree or another. Yet when we receive the implanted Word, it is able to save our souls. As the Word reigns in our hearts, it begins to reign in our actions.
Christians can pretend to obey God without truly listening to His commands. The readers of James’s letter knew the transformative power of God’s Word, the gospel. The appeal to be slow to speak demands silence until we have understood and applied the message. To be slow to speak is a call for restraint lest we produce hasty, ill-timed reactions. The challenge to be slow to become angry warns against hostile, bitter feelings. Being attentive and obedient to Scripture and processing it carefully before speaking will curb any tendency toward wrath.
While James wrote specifically about our speech, there are other areas of life where this applies, too. What area of your life are you trying to control on your own? The Scriptures likely speak to it either directly or indirectly. When we give ourselves over to the teachings of Scripture, God’s Word transforms us and brings us under the control of the Holy Spirit. Self-determination and self-control can only take us so far—we need the Spirit to transform the way we respond to others.
- What are you seeking to control in your life right now? What wisdom does Scripture have on this issue?
- How are you planning to read and digest God’s truth to change your heart and life?
- Pray that God would give you the grace to understand and live by His truth.