Today I was going through one of the journals that I keep. In this journal I record scriptures and quotes out of various books that I read. These are things that speak directly to my heart at the time. After writing them down, I sit with them and ponder and pray. Then I respond to them by usually writing out a prayer. This journal has become more like my conversations with God than just another journal. Today I was looking through it and came across the following scripture:
James 1:19-20 (AMPC)
”Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. For man’s anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires].”
Quick to Hear
When God directs us to be “quick to hear” what is He really asking us to do? Too often I have not been quick to hear. The truth is I am too busy trying to figure out what it is that I am going to say. Being quick to hear is to give someone your undivided attention. This message to me sounds easier said than done. I am prone to be a problem solver and that has gotten me into relationship problems one too many times.
Learning to keep my mouth shut when all it wants to do is speak is a habit that I continuously work on. There are times when I know that I need to just be quiet. I tell myself to be quiet, yet all of a sudden I hear my own voice speak the words that should be held back. Yes, working on my self control is a daily event.
Can you relate? Have there been times in your life where you know deep within you that you need to keep quiet, only to hear your own voice speak out?
A Ready Listener
I like how the “Amplified Bible” explains that we need to be “a ready listener”. To be a “ready listener” means that I have to be willing to put myself and my feelings aside until after I hear the other person speak. It also means that I need to be prayed up. In order to respond well to others I need to have a connection with God. This connection is established through my prayer life. Daily I need to seek God to direct my actions and to direct my mouth. I see that I also need to ask Him to direct my ears and to make me a better listener.
Slow to Speak
As I previously mentioned I am a problem solver. This often leads me to speak first and listen later. Well, this has also gotten me into several relationship problems. The truth is it is more beneficial to stay quiet and pray before speaking, than it is to speak the first thing that comes to mind. I am learning to ask God to give me His wisdom when I am needing to speak.
Have you ever spoken out of your hurt or anger? I know that I have. When I am mindful of being “slow to speak” and seeking God’s guidance, He will show me that the words that want to come out of my mouth will do more harm than it will do good.
Slow to Take Offense
I don’t know about you, but if I am not being quick to listening and slow in speaking – I am more prone to easily be offended. Not only do I get offended for myself but I can get offended for others too.
Walking around with offense in my heart is grueling. It is a heaviness that is hard to shake. Not only does it affect me it also affects all those around me. I become irritable and discontent and both of these often will lead me to feelings of bitterness and resentment. Of course, this will effect my relationships with others, but it also effects my relationship with myself and sadly my relationship with God. If you are needing some help in overcoming bitterness and resentment I have written a devotional called “Attaining Victory Over Bitterness”.
Slow to Anger
Feeling angry is natural and it shows that we are humans. The Bible though tells us to not sin when we are angry and to not let the sun go down when we are angry.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” Ephesians 4:26 (NIV)
It is perfectly alright to get angry but we have to deal with our anger in ways that are pleasing to God. It is not pleasing to God when we lash out in our anger. In addition it is also not pleasing when we sit and stew in it. We have to make the choice to work through our feelings of anger. If you are struggling with your anger please take a moment to read the following article on “19 Bible Verses For When You Are Feeling Anger”.
The last part of the opening scripture speaks to us about how anger does not promote the righteousness of God. This is why it is vital to be mindful of our anger and to recognize it. Once we recognize it, we need to honor God by asking Him to help us work through it. In the end we have a choice to make – hold on or use one of our keys to Victorious Living – chose to forgive. This is not always easy, however with God – it is possible.
Honoring God means that we need to heed His word and develop the habit of applying this scripture to our lives. We need to be mindful of being quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.
Prayer — To Be Quick to Hear – Slow to Speak and Slow to Anger
Lord, please forgive me for opening up my mouth when I should keep it firmly shut. Help me to be a better listener and to show others that I am open to hear them. I pray that You will also help me to not react when I get offended, but to come straight to You first with the offense. Forgive me for the anger, bitterness and resentments that I have held in my heart and help me to release them and let them go. Today, I choose to honor You. Today I choose to forgive the past and press forward with You. Today I am choosing to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.
In Jesus’ Name ~~~ Amen
Do you struggle with being quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger? Is there someone that you are holding on to offense and need to chose to forgive? I want to encourage you to ask God to help you be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.
Let me know in the comments as I would love to hear from you and pray for you too.
Are you interested in reading more of my devotionals? I am including a link for you:
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