While anger can sometimes lead to good, it is something as Christians, we should avoid. James 1 tells us to be slow to anger. This may or may not be easy for you. No matter how often you experience anger, understand that everyone does. Whether or not we’ve been angry or the recipient of anger, we’ve all experienced it. This is just a part of life on Earth. Even though our anger, at times, is justified and can lead to good, unfortunately, there are times when it’s not. This is normally when we are quick to get angry.
My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.James 1:19-20 CSB Emphasis Added
Okay James, Easier Said Than Done.
I understand what the Holy Spirit is saying through James; however, I also understand that this is much easier said than done! If I am being honest with you, this is very difficult for me. I struggle to be slow to anger at times. This is embarrassing because I know what God says about anger. However, too often, I get caught up in my own selfishness to be slow to anger. But perhaps, this is an important realization. James’ words speak to our own selfishness in the two verses we just read. Let’s pay closer attention to what James has to say.
Quick to Listen – Slow to Speak:
James begins this section of scripture by encouraging us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. This is so critical; it helps us remember where the emphasis should be placed. If I need to focus on listening, that means I need to be focused on the other person I am talking too and less focused on myself. We must overcome selfishness. This is the only way we can be good listeners who are slow to speak.
It is likely that we all know someone who is difficult to talk to because it is hard for us to get in a word. It’s as if we begin to talk, and they immediately begin to interrupt. This is frustrating and can cause us to get angry at times. Yet, while it is difficult to have a conversation with this type of person, it can also be difficult not to be this person. At times, we all believe we have something important to say and that the other person needs to hear us.
This incorrect belief can make us quick to share our opinion, our frustration, disagreement, and anger, rather than hearing what the other person has to say. It is natural to mistakenly act as if others need to hear us more than they need to be heard. Yet, when we do this, we allow an opportunity for anger to gain our control. Anger can often move in when we act like being heard is more important than hearing. Our desire to be heard often grows stronger as we disagree, get frustrated, or get annoyed. We abandon listening and attempting to understand each other’s point of view because we want our point of view to be understood. It is way easier to be quick to talk and slow to listen. This is, at least impart, due to a self-centered mindset, that unfortunately grows stronger as we begin to be angry!
Listening Avoids Anger:
On the flipside, it seems that when we are slow to speak and quick to listen, we display our care and love for the person talking. We show them that they are important to us and that we want to know and understand what they are saying. This helps others feel important, validated, loved, and supported. The love and care we show by listening is also multiplied when we express our disagreement in a slow and thoughtful way. Being slow to speak gives us time to reflect on what we want to say so that it can be said in a loving and caring way. Perhaps, this is why listening is so important. When we are slow to react to what others are saying, we have time to respond in a way that won’t cause conflict, stress, and despair. When we listen and respond slowly, we have an opportunity to grow and understand a different perspective. Most importantly, anger is less likely to result.