“You know this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-25
When trials come, temptations inevitably will follow. There will be temptations to doubt, to fear, to become angry, to become anxious, and the list can continue. Each temptation is ultimately a strategy devised to lure believer’s further from God and to cast doubt upon the supremacy, holiness, love, and character of God. Our actions inaudibly voice that we are not certain that we can trust God's sovereignty over all things, including the difficult trial we are currently facing.
When trials and temptations come, we are bombarded with emotions that surface and with those emotions our patience is under scrutiny. We may have the temptation to be: slow to hear, quick to speak, and quick to anger. James, chapter 1:19-20, addressed believers with trials in mind when he wrote, “be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” These are three qualities to live by in general, but especially when it comes to trials. Oftentimes during trials we are less prone to want to hear something other than what would relieve our current hardship or suffering. James’ exhortation instructs us to be quick to hear and to avoid speaking hastily. If we are quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, we place ourselves in a position to be more receptive to what is being spoken to us, more cautious with our selection of words, and less prone towards anger. In this passage, James encouraged believers that during trials we are to accept and be receptive to the Word of God. That means as we hear and read the Scriptures while we are going through a trial, we should be the most receptive to what God’s Word says and not become embittered by it or shy away from listening to sermons that correct our way of thinking and encourage our faith, nor should we lessen our reading of the Scriptures (Romans 12:1-3).
We all can agree that life is hard, the unexpected happens, trials are difficult, and can be very lengthy. It is so easy to complain, speak harshly, and to voice our discouragement and doubt, more than we choose to voice our trust in the greatness of our God (Proverbs 10:19). It’s especially important during those times that even though we don’t understand, we must remember that: God is all powerful, He is in control, and we can trust Him. His infinite love will only allow what He has purposed and He will cause all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Keep in mind that being slow to speak isn’t to say that we can’t share our concerns or ask for prayer, but we should first bring our concerns to God and be careful not to quickly voice our anger abruptly (Proverbs 17:27). We should search the Scriptures to quickly listen to what God has to say and pray for receptive hearts so that we believe the truth of God’s Word and rest in the peace of knowing that He hears us when we pray and He cares. When we think of the opposite of what James addressed, which is being slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to anger, we can look at the journey of the children of Israel in the wilderness. What was to be a three-day journey, lengthened into a 40-year journey because of their doubt and unbelief, which was mostly vocalized (Exodus 15:22-18) and subsequently led to their embitterment, as well as not entering into the Promised Land.
No matter the length of our trials, if we are quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, we are guarding our hearts against the temptation to succumb to doubt. Doubting God lures us further from fellowship and faith in God, and draws us closer to the temptation that will lead us towards believing the lies of Satan and not trusting or seeking God. Finally, doubting leads to the demise of dismissing Scripture by defining and doing what is right in our own eyes apart from the wisdom and guidance of God (Judges 21:25).
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