“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
One of the most important things you do every day is communicate and connect with other people. As a follower of Jesus on the path, your goal should be to listen in a way that makes people want to talk to you, and then speak in a way that makes people want to listen to you.
Every time I read the James passage quotes above, I am struck by how often we do exactly the opposite of what James teaches. We tend to be undisciplined in the way we listen, undisciplined in the way we speak, and undisciplined in the way we manage our emotions.
Our natural tendency is to be slow to hear other people, and much too hasty to speak and quick to get angry. This is because our old nature is quick, careless, and convincing.
- The old nature is quick. It is impulsive and reactionary. It acts impetuously based on the strongest emotion in the moment.
- The old nature is careless. It doesn’t press pause and think. It doesn’t evaluate or seek situational-awareness or self-awareness. It does not consider consequences. It is foolish and reckless.
- The old nature is convincing. It is persuasive, and even seductive. When we feel the impulses of the sin nature, there is a part of us that wants to do what the old nature is telling us to do, even though another part of us is saying, “Stop, don’t do that!”
This is the great internal, spiritual battle that Paul describes in Galatians:
“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5.16-17)
In order to communicate and connect with people on the path, we must walk in Spirit, say no to the impulses of our old nature, and be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.’ (Proverbs 16.32)