Updated: Jul 6, 2021
Be Quick to Listen. James 1:19 is often referenced when addressing anger. The idea typically involves being quick to listen before responding in anger. The implication is that we ought to listen to the other person first before losing our temper. However, the context is not a focus on listening to other people (there are verses that speak about listening to others before answering), but it is a focus on listening to the Word of God. By extension, Jesus is the Word, so we are to be quick to listen to Jesus.
The point that James applies is that when we sense anger rising within, the goal is not to primarily listen to the other person better, but to give heed, submit, and obey the Word of God.
As we look at James we are reminded that man's anger does not work the righteousness of God, but rather anger is linked to filthiness and rampant wickedness (vs. 19-20). Anger rarely dwells in isolation, but is often the gateway to greater and increased sin.
In contrast to our angry response, we are to respond in meekness to Scripture. This involves humility as we see ourselves as God sees us. We do not see our standard as the qualifying marker, but rather we align ourselves with God's Word. We receive His Word in humility. We are quick to listen to what God is saying and we willingly accept it and allow it to transform us. It is this Word that is our hope for rescue.
James further expands the thought by instructing us that the receiving of the Word will always result in doing (obedience) what the Word says. If we are not doing what the Word says, then we are deceiving ourselves (remember that we are blinded/deceived by our anger). Our tongue will not be bridled (think of it in connection to our anger) and our profession of followers of Christ will be empty.
The challenge is to be in the Word and obedient to the Word. This becomes the way anger is rooted out of our lives. Let us listen to the Word and obey the Word.