“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
James 1: 19
James 1: 19-21
A wonderful, gentleman, friend and previous Bishop of Chile would often say, “We have two ears and one mouth; we should use them proportionately.” Whenever I read today’s key verse I think of my wise friend’s knowing smile as he made this statement. So often we want to speak rather than listen, to get our point of view over rather than hearing another’s. Additionally we can listen without really hearing. We probably can all imagine ourselves on our phones, computers, watching TV or in a rush while someone is talking to us. We listen to them but we don’t really hear them.
James makes the connection between not listening and anger. When an individual is not heard or understood frustration can occur which easily spills over into anger. Relationships are harmed. In the context of this first chapter which focuses on trials and temptations we see the importance of listening AND hearing. There are many examples in our world today where trials and difficulties have occurred, people have gone unheard, anger erupted and there were consequences such as civil disobedience.
Earlier in the chapter the source of evil desires was confirmed as our hearts (vs. 13-14). In this section James warns us that this sort of anger does not make us right with God or bring God’s goodness into situations and lives (vs. 20). He encourages us to humble ourselves before God and to get rid of our ‘moral filth and evil,’ (vs.21). The way we are enabled to do this by God is in accepting the Word He has planted in us; this can save us. Here we return to Wednesday’s blog and the new birth that faith in Christ through God’s grace brings about. To receive this new birth we need to listen to God’s Word AND hear it to understand what He is saying. God speaks to us in many ways, in these verses James is referring to the written Word (earlier the living Word, Jesus Christ). His Word, the Bible, reveals God, Jesus Christ and the Gospel message of salvation. To be truly blessed we need to listen AND hear God’s Word. This takes time, commitment and the work of the Holy Spirit. Hearing God can result in accepting Him which can lead to new life.
At St. Aidan’s we are gearing up to go through the Bible in one year; in 2021. There will be a great deal of assistance, support and guidance provided as we do this (keep an eye on our website). Can I encourage you, whoever and wherever you are, to take part in this journey; to really listen to and hear God? It will transform your life and help bring about the peace and righteousness the world so desperately needs.
To Ponder: What sort of listener are you, do you hear what you listen to? How do you listen to God? Do you need to re-think how you hear Him in His Word, both living (Jesus Christ) and written (Bible)?
Pray: Merciful God, teach us to be faithful in change, uncertainty, trials and temptations. Help and enable us to listen to and hear your Word so that we may trust you, obey your will and enter into the unfailing joy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Praise: How Firm a Foundation
Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path by Amy Grant
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.