Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger

James 1-19

In the Verse of the Day for May 25, 2017 we find further directives for Godly people:

James 1:19 (AMP)

Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];

In reflecting on this verse of the Day, I divided the instructions into three essential commands for believers and added a poem related to each topic.

Be quick to hear [a ready listener],

The first part of the verse in the Amplified Bible mentions hearing in light of being “a ready listener,” implying a difference between “hearing” and “listening” which are not synonymous. Hearing is perceiving sound waves that are received on the ear. On the other hand, listening involves interpreting and evaluating what is being said with intent to respond.  Hearing is passive, whereas listening should be active. Keith Davis comments, “Hearing is with the ears; listening is with the mind.”

This discussion also brings to mind that listening is an art that is perfected over time by conscious, consistent effort to improve, especially in a spiritual context as we learn to listen to God. As we continually place our ears near to the lips of God, we develop our proficiency in listening to hear the Master’s voice, as we practice in order to perfect this art:

The Art of Listening

God has something to say to you,

God has something to say.

Listen, Listen, Pay close attention.

God has something to say.

Children’s Song


The Lord GOD has given Me
the tongue of the learned,

That I should know how to speak
a word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.

The Lord GOD has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.

Isaiah 50:4-5


Listen, listen, and learn: hear with the inner ear.

Tune your ears to hear in the center of your heart.

Understand to listen is not same as to hear.

To listen intently and to learn is an art,

Practiced and perfected day by day.

As you hear and listen in the center of your heart,

I perform and bring to pass each word that I say.

In my unfolding Kingdom, you too have a part,

For to walk in love is the more excellent way.

Partake of my promises and consume my Word.

As precious as life-giving water, hold it dear

And do my will, proving all things that you have heard.

Listen intently and obey: Perfect this art.

Listen, listen, and learn: hear with the inner ear.

This message reinforces the Irish Proverb: “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.”

Be slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words . . .]

Throughout the Scriptures believers are exhorted to be mindful of the words they speak.

Ephesians 4:29 in the Message Bible states:

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

We are encouraged not only to watch what goes into the mouth but watch what comes out of the mouth

Paul further reminds us: Let your words always be seasoned with salt that they may minister grace to the hearers.

We must be very concerned about the words that we speak since “life and death” is in the power of the tongue.

The Power of the Tongue

But the tongue can no man tame;

it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison

James 3:8


We know the tongue has power to generate life,

To produce seeds that will eventually take root

And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:

Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife

Can build or destroy a brother, a friend, a wife.

With his hand, the helmsman easily turns great ships,

So we covenant to guard the gates of our lips,

For words can heal or pierce the heart as a sharp knife.

We desire life and long to see good all our days,

So we speak the truth and refrain from speaking lies.

Like Jesus, we want our tongue to speak what God says.

We seek to be wise but never in our own eyes.

Pressing toward the finish, the coming of God’s kingdom,

We seek not just a word but the spirit of wisdom.

Be slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];

This last section brings to mind encouragement to change. Where we once were quick to respond angrily or impulsively, we should now strive to become more patient, reflective and forgiving. This section of the verse causes us to recall that as we change our attitude, we can change our world. We can become “change agents” who by our very presence can impact where we interact with others. As agents of change we transform our environment; we give no offense and remove every stumbling block. We have salt in ourselves, and make peace with one another. All in all, we can make a difference as we follow

A Different Approach 

2 Corinthians 5:14-17                                 

Because of Christ’s undying love, we choose to love

Based on the love of God, not on what we can see.

Though blindsided by sin with a distorted view,

Through the lens of God’s love we now have a new creation reality.

We longer know Christ or anyone from a human viewpoint

And refuse to imprison others because of their last offense.

God in Christ forgave us each time we would fail or disappoint.

Each day provides one more fresh start, another day to commence:

The old life is gone; a new life has begun so that we

Can take a different approach: To love, see, and know differently.

Indeed, James 1:19 offers sound advice for us to heed, so aptly stated in the more familiar rendering in the King James Version:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

Taylor McCall offers a musical rendering of James 1:19-27 from which the Verse of the Day is taken.


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2 Responses to “Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger”

  1. apocalypse2blog Says:

    I love birds – listening if my greatest challenge – what about – quick to think?

    • Dr. J Says:

      Thanks for stopping by “The Shoppe” and leaving a comment. Yes, as I said, “Listening is an art.” Most people think they are listening, but so many are waiting until they can immediately respond to the words being spoken. Listening is a challenge for me and so many more.

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