Hear and Do: Speed Control

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)

I love that the Bible never says, “Don’t feel angry!” God understands that’s not possible. Instead, he gives us some of the most practical and profound teaching on what to do with anger in all of recorded human history.

heardo_350First, rush into hearing. Listen long enough to clearly understand all the facts and all the motives, as best you can. Then listen again. Second, shut up. The first words out of our mouths in an angry situation are often the worst ones. When you’re angry, doubt your mouth.

Finally, own this: You’re not going to make any real progress toward your real goals while the anger meter is in the red. Wait for it to cool off before taking action or making big decisions. Don’t let your anger run your life.

Think: What are some ways you can slow your anger down – and keep it from sending you spiraling in an unhealthy direction.

Pray: Ask God for speed control over your listening (faster), talking (slower), and getting mad (slower).

Do: Ask a mature Christian friend or two what their strategy is for keeping anger from controlling their lives.

Hear and Do: No Outlet

“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” (James 1:21)

Have you ever spent any time in a maze – either on paper with a pen or pencil or inside some kind of life-size contraption? The implied goal of being in a maze is to get out, to get through it, to get to the other side. You can’t escape if you keep getting stuck in dead ends.

heardo_350James makes an assumption in these verses. He assumes that our goal in life is to live “the righteous life that God desires.” If that’s not our ultimate goal for life on this side of heaven, then his book isn’t going to make much sense to us.

He told us yesterday that human anger is a dead end; it does not lead to choices that please God. Today, James drops some more knowledge on all of us maze-dwellers: “Other dead ends: moral filth and evil. The way home? It’s in the Word. The Word’s in you. Don’t resist the Word (unless you like dead ends).”

Think: Have you discovered some dead ends in life? What are worthless choices or attitudes you’re learning to avoid because they don’t get you where you want to go?

Pray: Ask God to give you a radar for worthless paths so you can keep heading in a worthwhile direction.

Do: Off the top of your head, write a quick definition for moral filth. Then look the two words up in a dictionary.