Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
James 1:19-21, NLT
Am I the only one who feels an exorbitant amount of conviction when reading these verses? I tend to be the EXACT opposite of what James calls for:
- Slow to listen…check.
- Quick to speak…check.
- Very fast to get angry…DOUBLE CHECK!
While my journey continues and I make strides for improvement in these areas, I am embarrassed to admit my many shortcomings. I DO like to hear myself talk—more than listening most times. I am one of those who tends to be thinking about what I am going to say when someone else is talking (who I should be giving my attention). I also “fly OFF the handle” way too often, and, at times, look for a reason to be offended or angry. So when James demands that I rid myself of “filth and evil,” I snap to attention. Why? Because of the latter part of this passage: I know better. God’s Word has been presented and represented to me time and time again: the promises of being faithful and obedient AND the consequences of being unfaithful and disobedient. It LIVES inside my heart. And yet, I ignore its precepts at times. James’ reminder to me—to us all—is to be vigilant about our conduct. Remember Who’s we are and Who we serve and represent. But also recall an important truth: I am not perfect and James’ words are NOT condemnation, but a gentle PUSH towards the holy conviction of God’s Spirit. His Word is, in fact, in my heart! And I want what is IN MY HEART to come out…rather than what tends to come out of my “pie hole.”