“Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; for the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us].” James 1:19
It is so easy to jump to conclusions at times, isn’t it? Once we decide in our hearts that a person has wronged us, it is so easy to feel ‘just’ in our thoughts toward how we react to them and treat them. Anger, in itself, is not sinful, but when we allow anger to harbour in our spirit and we react out in anger, we are not responding in ‘love’. This is why we are asked to listen carefully, be slow to speak, be slow to anger. Be slow, in my opinion, means taking a moment to process the words being spoken to us, and listen to the heart of the person before jumping to conclusions!
I have learned from personal experience that when we live in a state of anger, we are quick to respond to situations angrily. Hurt people go on to hurt other people. The cycle continues until we address the issue. If we don’t stop the cycle of anger it will continue for ever. We need to make the decision to look up and ask God for help in this area, and get off the train to anger-ville.
This verse in James is a great reminder for us all to stop, listen, think about and process what has been said, choose love and forgiveness, and move forward. Holding grudges and being angry hurts us more than the person who has hurt us. The only way to move forward when someone hurts us is forgiveness. Sometimes it takes a long time to really find that forgiveness, but we have to forgive for our own sense of peace. We choose forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t happen to us.