James 1: 19-22
But let each one of you always be ready to listen, that he does not hasten to speak, nor to get angry. For it is not by anger that a man accomplishes what is right in the sight of God. Rid yourselves, therefore, of all that defiles and remains in you of wickedness, to receive, with humility, the word that has been planted in your heart, for it has the power to save you.
But don’t just listen to it; translate it into action; otherwise, you would be mistaken.
Who wants to waste their time listening? Today we are in a hurry, so much that we do not have time to listen. We hear, but we don’t listen. Because we don’t listen, we don’t understand. As we do not understand, we slip or go astray. Our listening time has greatly diminished in favour of our speaking time! In this world where opinions matter, we want to talk and give our ideas because we all want to be ‘influencers’.
We want to talk so much that we don’t listen to others and yet we want to be heard! What a paradox! You who want to be listened to but you don’t have time to listen to others! Who will listen to you in this crazy world of social media? Unfortunately, we have the same behaviour when it comes to our faith and our Christian life.
Today everyone thinks they must share something, communicate, write and speak. Many want to make their opinions heard on the word, on faith and on the Christian walk. So much that everyone talks, but no one listens. We no longer listen to our suffering brothers and sisters; we no longer listen to our pastors, even our parents. We no longer listen to the suffering of society. Where there is no listening, there is no obedience.
Jacque urges us to be slow to speak because being slow to speak allows us to listen and understand. It is more about listening than talking.
Jacques also invites us to be slow to anger. We must not let ourselves go into anger. Because in an angry state, we cannot act rationally. We cannot think objectively. We fail to act justly and uprightly. Anger prevents us from pleasing God in our actions. Why are you angry? Why this bitterness and resentment?
We can’t control external situations, but we can control our thoughts and our anger. We can choose to get angry or stay calm, just as we choose not to talk but listen firsthand.
The point of James is that these things fill and defile our hearts. Then we cannot live freely as God wills. We cannot accept the word of God that can save us and even heal us.
If our heart is already troubled, we will have trouble listening to and understanding the word of God. It will be even more challenging to obey it.
There is another attitude today. With Internet access, I have seen that we have a lot of access to information. Today many pastors and others who want to speak and make themselves heard constantly publish messages. I see a generation that continually watches videos, that “listens” frequently, but unfortunately, does not put anything into practice.
That’s another fundamental problem—those who seem to listen but don’t put anything into practice in their lives. My friends, it is not by watching, listening or reading only that we will grow spiritually. No, we have to put what we have learned into practice.
The word of God, spoken or written, is made for us to believe and obey. It is not a book to be continually debated or explained. It must be read, understood, accepted and followed.
Once again this morning, James asks us and encourages us, therefore, to get rid of all that defiles and remains in us of wickedness, to receive, with humility, the word that has been planted in our hearts.