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Heard – Listen First

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” James 1:19

We live in a world that loves to be angry and upset. Quick tempers, quick judgement, and quick vengeance are more the norm than the abnormal.

There is something that is within us, in our nature, that makes us feel better when we feel we have the right to be angry.  We get a high from rage.

This is not how God wants us to live. This is how the enemy wants us to live.

We know the bible is very clear that anger in itself is not a sin, but if we do not deal with it, it can become a major problem.

Sin opens the door to the devil to wreak havoc and mayhem in our lives. 

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27

In The Living Bible, it translates as, “If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27 TLB

There is a biblical order that James wants us to understand.

  1. Be quick to listen first.
  2. Don’t think you always have to talk.
  3. If you get the first two right, you will be very slow to be upset–if you even get upset at all.

“Dear brothers, don’t ever forget that it is best to listen much, speak little, and not become angry; for anger doesn’t make us good, as God demands that we must be.

So get rid of all that is wrong in your life, both inside and outside, and humbly be glad for the wonderful message we have received, for it is able to save our souls as it takes hold of our hearts. And remember, it is a message to obey not just to listen to. So don’t fool yourselves. James 1:19-22 TLB

The King James Version says, But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.”

Guzik writes in his commentary, “We can learn to be slow to wrath by first learning to be swift to hear and slow to speak. Much of our anger and wrath comes from being self-centered and not others -centered. Swift to hear is a way to be others-centered. Slow to speak is a way to be others-centered.”

Trapp writes, “But hath not Nature taught us the same that the apostle here doth, by giving us two ears, and those open; and but one tongue, and that hedged in with teeth and lips?” 

When Jesus started his earthly ministry, after being tempted in the wilderness, he begins to teach key principles in what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. 

He taught on the beatitudes… “Blessed are the…”

He taught about being the salt of the earth.

He taught about temptation. 

He taught about forgiveness.

He taught about loving your enemy.

He taught about giving.

He taught about prayer and fasting. 

He taught about worry. 

And many other subjects.

But listen to how He wraps it up-this is THE KEY in living our lives for God.

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27

So, in a nutshell, what Jesus is saying is, if you listen and do His Word, it doesn’t matter what comes your way–your life will not be destroyed. But if you don’t listen and do His Word, great will be the fall of your life.

Spurgeon writes, “I fear we have many such in all congregations; admiring hearers, affectionate hearers, attached hearers, but all the while unblest hearers, because they are not doers of the word.” 

“For if a person just listens and doesn’t obey, he is like a man looking at his face in a mirror; as soon as he walks away, he can’t see himself anymore or remember what he looks like.” James 1:23-24 TLB

Guzik says, “A healthy person looks in the mirror to do something, not just to admire the image. Even so, a healthy Christian looks into God’s Word to do something about it, not just to store up facts that he will not put to use by being a doer of the word.”

In an article on listening statistics,” Rebecca Lake writes, “Escaping the constant barrage of background noise in our daily lives isn’t always easy, and unless you’re willing to take a vow of silence, you can’t avoid it altogether. The key is to pay attention to what you’re listening to, making it easier to filter out the static.” 

This is a general statement on listening, but it can easily be applied in this biblical example.

So many things are trying to get our attention, trying to get us to listen.

You cannot allow the static of secular and worldly views to consume what you are listening too, because this will tune out the Word of God. 

If we are quick to hear the Word of God, we will be quick to hear one another.

You can’t listen and talk at the same time. If you are upset and arguing with God, you will never be able to listen to His Word….and you will continue to be upset and arguing with one another. 

And if you are not listening to His Word, you are not able to be a doer of His Word. A does is to love, be kind, and gentle.

What are you listening to today?

Kent Elliott

Senior Pastor | Faith Tabernacle | Manchester, CT

Sr Pastor at Faith Tabernacle / President & Lead Consultant, FAITHWORKS Image Consulting. Husband to Crystal & father to Kaylea, Johnny (SIL) & Chase.

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