During this season of campaign speeches, how interesting that we ponder James 1:19, “My dear brothers, take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” Listen, speak, anger are somehow united. Since today is September first, I laid James next to Proverbs 1. In the intro in Proverbs 1, verse 5 begins a theme in the chapter, “let the wise listen.” Verse 6 continues, “Listen, my son to your father’s instructions and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” He personifies wisdom like a woman calling to us from the streets. If we are not listening to wisdom then we are probably not engaging with wisdom and wisdom can not help us in time of trouble.
In our noise driven world, listening requires that we unplug from social media, our music, our cell phones and take time to calm our souls so our ears tune into other sounds, perhaps music, perhaps friends, perhaps the Word. Listening takes time and so it is logical that if we are listening and pondering then we will be slower to respond rather than formulating our speech, our defense even before the other has finished a sentence.
James goes beyond listening and speaking to the content, the purpose of our communication. Being slow to anger, to me, would mean that I am listening, not to defend myself, not to hear accusations, but to understand the other. Anger often involves if not a sense of self-defense, perhaps a defense of what I think is right. How can I learn if my mind is made up at the start? How can I become wise?
As you go through today, may you listen with a heart to understand, speak with a desire to bless, and count to ten as you feel anger bubbling inside. To be angry is not the sin but what we do with it. Be slow to anger, resolving differences in the light of wisdom. Blessings.

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