Quick, slow, slow…
June 14th, 2019
Sometimes, certain passages just jump out at you, when you’re in the right mindset and least are expecting to read something that is life impacting.
Nonetheless, these things happen, perhaps more often than we realize. Because often when something touches our hearts and minds it does so in a suggestive manner that ripens over time. Our memories retrieve it and it washes over us until the moment that the profound value of the scripture reveals itself.
One such passage is James 1:19.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.
James 1:19 (NET)
James says this as a matter of fact. He doesn’t propose that it is some life changing truth, but when you consider it, this passage really is a portion of the template that is the life and ministry of Jesus, which we as disciples are to pattern our lives after.
Take a moment and consider the Lord and ask yourself, was there a time he had to explain to someone he wasn’t listening or paying attention, and would they please repeat it. There is no record of him misinterpreting what someone said.
Doing this I quickly realized the Jesus is a key example of being “quick to listen”.
Slow to speak
If anything might have prompted the Christ to speaking in a rush of excited speech, it might have been when they came to arrest him in the Garden. He wasn’t shaken. He responded to the interruption asking who they were seeking.
When Peter sliced off the ear of one of those coming to take Jesus into custody, Jesus calmly reprimanded the apostle, chastised the throng coming to take him and restored the man’s ear to its rightful condition.
When those who were around him saw what was about to happen, they said, “Lord, should we use our swords?” Then one of them struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus said, “Enough of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come out to get him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs like you would against an outlaw? Day after day when I was with you in the temple courts, you did not arrest me. But this is your hour, and that of the power of darkness!”
Luke 22:49-53 (NET)
So, it goes without saying, Jesus was slow to speak and when he spoke it was purpose and intent. He didn’t just say things to hear his own voice.
Slow to anger
It’s a common misconception that there is something wrong with becoming angry. You could just ask the money changers and merchants at the outer courtyard of the temple, if they could attest to Christ’s anger. He was angry.
In other settings he chastised people abruptly and put the religious authorities in their place.
Jesus focused his anger on the things that were wrong in the day, the things that violated the spirit and of the Word. The religious authority made a career of measuring righteousness based on compliance to the letter of the law. Jesus on the other hand expected the spirit of the law to pierce the heart and impact a difference in the lives of those in faith obeyed the law.
When it was obvious that their heart weren’t yielding to the Word of God, Jesus was offended spiritually and made this known. But it took something profound to stir his anger.
My dear brothers and sisters!
Jesus was Jesus. We are not nearly as good at being good.
Not an excuse. He’s our standard. It is what we aspire to imitate. Actually, more than intimate, because we don’t’ want to just do what Jesus does and say what Jesus says. We want, we should want, to use the Example Jesus presents, as our stencil for living in a state of discipleship.
So, this behavior that James points out we can see are exemplified by the Lord:
“Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
Take the time to consider these three directives and just how well we have adopted them in our own lives. Do we listen intently, or do we preoccupy our minds with issues of our own involvement? Do we hear the words that aren’t actually spoken that are revealed from the heart?
And what about the words we say? Are they measured? Tempered with the consideration of how those words could affect the individuals hearing it? Will people later consider what we have said and not just consider, but reconsider, multiple times, because we shared more than just words to fill an empty space in time.
Is our anger righteous?
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger. Do not give the devil an opportunity. The one who steals must steal no longer; rather he must labor, doing good with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with the one who has need. You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:26-29 (NET)
As we talked, these three elements are only a few pieces of the template we should be using to pattern our lives after, as disciples. But these tend to be rarely considered and yet they should be.
“Understand this”, if we are to be serious disciples of the risen Lord, we need to consider this along with every other attribute Christ Jesus portrayed for us. It is the duty of the Disciple to use Jesus as our standard.
In the Grace of Jesus!