Daily Devotionals

Would You Rather? Week 3 Wednesday

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19

When I think about the things I have said and done that I regret, the majority of these words and actions are a result of saying things and doing things without thinking. When I do not allow myself to consider the ramifications of my words and actions but instead say or do whatever I want in the heat of the moment, I almost always regret it. These words and actions often hurt the people around me and are anything but gentle. There is a better way than impulsively saying and doing whatever we want! In fact, Scripture teaches that we are to be “slow to speak” and “slow to become angry.” This new way is a way of gentleness.

James calls us to be gentle with the way we speak to the people around us. He says, “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19). In writing this, James is calling followers of Christ to do a lot more listening and a lot less speaking and becoming angry. The truth is, this is very different than the human tendency. You see, left to my own devices, I am quick to speak and get angry and slow to listen. Instead of responding this way, James teaches us that we are to do the opposite. Because being quick to listen and slow to speak and become angry is not the natural reaction, you and I must intentionally work to pick up these habits. That means that these habits must become a practice we choose every day until they become habits. 

When we choose to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, the incredible thing is that this attitude changes the atmosphere. We have all been in situations where someone reacts with grace, listening to us, and showing kindness and understanding when they could have chosen anger. This display of gentleness and kindness changes the entire atmosphere. It breaks down walls of division. 

We must heed James’ words today. We must practice gentleness by being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to react in anger. When we do this, we spread the kindness and gentleness of Christ with the world. We also promote an atmosphere of unity instead of division, and this world desperately needs unity today. Let’s be people who promote unity by listening more, talking less, and refusing to let anger divide us.

Moving Toward Action

Talk with your small group or a friend about James 1:19-20 and work through the following prompts:
· Discuss which of these three things is most challenging for you: being quick to listen, slow to speak, or slow to become angry.
· Decide one practical step you can take this this week to make progress in that challenging area you discussed.
· When everyone has shared, pray for each other to have the courage and boldness to take that step this week.

Going Deeper

Read James 1:19-27 (NLT)

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.