Our next verse starts with the word “wherefore”. As you know that means the writer is concluding a thought so we need to look back at what has been said thus far so the concluding remarks make sense.
So what has been said? This is our 6th lesson and the repeating theme has been patience. We were first told to have patience during times of testing when God allows our path to get harder so we will learn to trust and depend on Him. James then reminds us that if we will ask for wisdom, to know how to live godly, God will answer that prayer. Next James tells us to be careful what we allow our minds to think about or dwell on. All evil starts in the mind; we must guard our thoughts. Finally, in our last post, we talked about times when Satan will tempt us to do evil. In all these things James says to have patience. Now James gives us practical ways to have patience. It is one thing to say “Be patient”, we all agree we need to do that, but it is more helpful to say “Be patient and here is how to do it.”
Swift to Hear
Are we good listeners? During conversation do we listen to what is being said or are we formulating a come-back answer while someone else is speaking? (Conversation is not a competition, a debate is a competition) Lack of communication ruins relationships. (Friendships, marriages & our personal relationship with our Heavenly Father) Wars have been fought over what boils down to poor communication. Getting to know each other allows us to live more peaceably. This is not only for “Uncle Joe” who refuses to listen to anyone; it’s for all of us. Stop, focus and listen!
You are watching a ball game and your wife comes into the room and starts talking about an issue she is having. What do you do? A: you hold up your index finger signifying you want her to stop talking. B: you do nothing and continue to watch the game. C: you listen a little looking at her occasionally and continue watching the game. D: none of the above.
Answer: your wife knows you were watching the game so this is important to her. She does not want a debate, she does not want you to fix her issue, she just wants you to listen.
Slow to Speak
Do you remember the “count to 5” rule? When you are about to get angry stop and count to five. I’m not sure if counting to five works but considering what you say before you say it is solid advice. Go back to the lesson on being careful about what we think; if we are brooding inside eventually we are going to blow. If we control what goes on in the mind then we have a better chance to stop before we say something we will regret.
Slow to Wrath
Part of the process for being slow to wrath has to do with the two things we just covered, listening & keeping our mouth shut. You might say “wait a minute, Jesus became angry!” That is absolutely true, in Mat 21:12-13 the Jews were selling sacrifices and exchanging currency in the temple. Jesus was angry because they were desecrating God’s house for profit so he ran them out. Jesus was not responding to personal insults or the fact that he was not getting his way, these are the things we usually become angry over, Jesus was upset that Gods house was being used as a “den of thieves”.
For those of us who struggle with getting riled up easily we need to use the lessons James has taught us thus far in Chapter 1…
- Learn to open our ears (value other people’s words)
- Learn to close our mouth
- Remember to ask God for wisdom
In verse 20 James clearly states that if we cannot control our emotions we cannot please God. Our relationship with our Creator is our top priority; if we say we want to be a good Christian we must control our emotions. Some will say “I can’t help it, that’s just the way I am”. Not true, God would not require us to control our emotions if we didn’t have the ability to do so.