Let us Pray.
To God the Father, who first loved us and made us accepted in the beloved; to God the Son, who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to God the Holy Ghost, who sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts – be all love, and all glory, for time and eternity. Amen.
“Know this my beloved brothers and sisters: Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does NOT produce the righteousness that God requires.”
In verses 1 - 18 James has spoken of times of trial and the testing of our faith. Our trials can make us do the opposite of what James tells us to do. The pressures of trials make us slow to listen and quick to speak – especially quick to speak in anger.
The proverbial man who kicks the dog when he comes home from work does so not because the pet has wounded him but because he has suffered trials at work. It becomes even more serious when we “kick” other people.
A married couple struggling financially is more likely to experience marital conflict. They may fight over the money or over other issues, but the financial trial has become the occasion for sinning against each other.
James sees in these relational conflicts occasions for testing which develops perseverance and leads to maturity; or they can be occasions for temptation, which promotes sin and leads to death. James is calling for purity in relationships. He sees the life-threatening danger of sin and the life giving value of faith. The danger in being slow to listen and quick to speak is in the sin aroused.
We as deacons can see the value that good listening has in our church, we can see the damage done to people and to relationships and to our ministries when we are quick to argue our positions, defend our views and push our opinions. When we discipline ourselves to concentrate on listening and giving a full hearing in order to understand the other side of the conflict, great good can be done we usually find the conflict more easily resolved.
It is not only the avoidance of conflict that James has in mind but that good listening helps to administer God’s love for others’ healing and strengthening. This good listening is a ministry God wants us to have toward each other to promote the righteous life he desires for us to have.
Human anger and divine righteousness are typically at odds with each other. A person acting by the former does not carry out or produce the latter. Jesus tells us in Matt. 5:22 “I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be liable to judgment.” If our goal is to “receive the crown of life” we will make our choices accordingly. If we act in resentment toward the person who has greater comforts of wealth, we are not acting according to the righteous life that God desires. If we act in hatred toward the person who has injured us with spiteful attitudes or slanderous words or damaging action, we are not carrying out the righteous life God desires. Do we want revenge and comfort and avoidance of hardship or do we want God’s righteousness in our life? Shall we not as Jesus says “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”?
To be righteous means to do what God tells us to do. Righteousness means obeying the law of God. Righteousness ultimately involves bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit of Christ. If we are not moved by the Spirit of God we will never be motivated to do anything out of a genuine love for God.
God’s righteousness should create in us a feeling of awe and a sense of punishment, for we all fall short of it. But applied to us in Christ, it is a source of unspeakable comfort and joy. As Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 5:21, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
So let us be slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to anger. Let us hunger and thirst for righteousness. For then shall we be satisfied. For then shall we be blessed.
Let us Pray.
O most merciful redeemer; through the price of they precious blood and through the merits of they bitter passion and death, purify our souls from all stain of sin, and grant that we, ever increasing in gratitude and love towards thee, may become more fervent in seeking purity of heart, and may at the last be counted worthy to enter into that inheritance which thou hast purchased for us with they precious blood. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen