Quick to Hear, Slow to Speak (James 1:19)

Many years ago, I discovered James 1:19. As I have long been a student of communication, it became one of those important Bible passages that I memorized. While, for a communication focus, I have intended to focus on only part of verse 19, the entire verse and the following verse reads, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).

James’ Letter

Interestingly, James’ focus when using this verse is not necessarily the general sense of communication for which I often use it. In this first chapter, James is addressing suffering and trials his readers were experiencing. He tells them, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” He then encourages them to ask God if the lack wisdom or understanding of the trials they are experiencing or God’s intent for them. James contrasts the person who remains steadfast through trials with those who do not ask nor listen to God but are instead enticed and carried away by their own desires. He reminds his readers that every good gift comes from God and He brought forth from the Word of God.

So, when James encourages his readers (including us reading the letter centuries later), he is primarily telling them to be quick to listen to God’s truth. We hear God’s objective truth in the pages of the Bible, like James letter. We need to be quick to hear and and apply what God has commanded. When we do this we will be able to rejoice even in the midst of trials.

Applying Quick to Hear

Can we, however, apply this wisdom generally? Sure we can. Good communication skills are universal. We can use the same skills we use to understand God’s Word to understand others. Greater understanding helps us love and we are commanded to both love God and love our neighbor.

As we continue to consider what God reveals to us about communication we will see again and again that being quick to hear not only applies to hearing God, but also our neighbor. I will return to James 1:19 in a future post to consider the application of “be quick to hear” more closely. I invite you to join me on this journey through God’s Word to become better communicators.

May you be quick to hear, slow to speak

rjm

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