The Epistle of James - Godly Values
Part 8 - Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry
4th May 2018
James says, "Take note of this" - pay attention, remember. This is important: every one of us should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
Partly through my involvement with Acorn Christian Healing, I've seen that there is immense power in Christian listening. There are people who need to tell their story to someone, without interruption. Sometimes, we need to resist the temptation to respond, to say, "Yes, I had an experience like that once" or whatever. There are times when listening, keeping your mouth shut for as long as it takes, and letting someone tell their story, is really valuable.
There are Christian people who've been saved for decades, and who have stories of loss, tragedy, trauma or abuse that they've never told anybody. And they probably won't get free of those things unless they tell someone. And they won't tell you if you keep interrupting.
If you're one of those Christians, it you have a story you need to tell, and you've never told it to anybody, then find a Christian you can trust, tell them, and ask them to pray for you. It will make a difference, even if that story is decades old. The inner pain will not go away until you address it. The longer it stays hidden, the more you need to get it out.
God bless good Christian listeners.
It's good to be quick to listen, and it's good to be slow to speak. This is partly achieved through self-control, and partly through a genuine belief that the other person's opinion is as valuable as yours, as worth listening to as yours. We've all been in a situation where someone else is talking, but we're just waiting to get a chance to say what we want to say. But we can choose to just listen until they've shared what they want to share. There's not that much of a hurry in life. We can listen properly to the other person. Perhaps afterwards, they'll give us space to say what we want to say but, even if they don't, it's good to listen.
It's good to be quick to listen, it's good to be slow to speak, and it 's very important to be slow to become angry. Some people often find it difficult to control their anger, and all of us find it difficult in some circumstances. Sometimes, someone will mention a situation or the name of a person who hurt you years ago. Perhaps you'll feel angry because that suppressed memory, that ancient pain, has never been completely dealt with. By the grace of God, we can apologise to the person who inadvertently reminded us of our old hurt, we can go to God, and we can be healed of the memory that had touched us so deeply.
We all have triggers that make us want to scream or shout or get angry. When something happens that makes us realise we're still damaged by something that happened in the past, we can be released from that anger. Healing from those memories is available, if we will take them to God. And sometimes it's easier if we share with another Christian first. We can talk it through, then come to God in prayer, and let Him touch our heart.
Freedom is valuable and important, and it's available to those who will go to God and ask for it.
The reason we must be slow it anger is:
There is such a thing as righteous anger, but, in my experience of the church, only about 1% of our anger is righteous anger. Righteous anger is such a good excuse, "I'm angry because I'm righteous". Probably not.
Perhaps you're angry because of something that happened years ago. Perhaps you're angry because there's sin in your life. Or perhaps you're angry simply because you've never truly repented of being angry.
If we're going to become mature Christians, if we're going to glorify God with our lives, we need to find a way in God not to be angry, because man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
All the time I'm angry with my brother, my heart is not pure towards him. When I'm angry my lips may not be pure towards him or about him. All the time I'm angry my prayer life will suffer, my Bible study will lessen, my worship will be degraded, and my life will be less holy, because anger infects me.
And when I'm angry with my brother, it will probably damage him, and make it more difficult for him to live a holy life. There's a danger that he will fall into self-pity, or that he will also get angry, or will develop a desire for revenge.
Anger is understandable, but it doesn't help. Whatever it is that makes you angry, let it go. Be free of it. And let your brother be free of it, too.