Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19–20)
What is the connection between listening, speaking, and anger?
Although it’s mentioned last, let’s start with a quick look at anger.
Most people work hard to avoid expressing their anger–not me! I am amazed by how far a person can go to keep it bottled up. I’ve traveled a long road with anger, and still have a long way to go.
James tells us to be slow with our anger. Sometimes, anger is the right response when it results in the kind of righteousness God desires.
Anger from broken, sinful, imperfect humans rarely reaches this standard.
Many physical systems have safety measures built into them. They allow for a bit of destruction to save from greater devastation.
- Electrical systems have circuit breakers. If the current is overloaded, the circuit breaker breaks, and the system is saved.
- Water heaters have pressure-release valves. If the water gets too hot, it opens up so the tank doesn’t explode.
- Steep declines in mountainous areas have run-away truck ramps. If a truck loses its brakes, it can pull off the road onto the safety ramp where gravity and several feet of loose gravel slows down the 18-wheeler.
This Scripture contains the safety device for the angry soul.
- When we listen more, we gain greater understanding. This releases some of the pressure and breaks the circuit.
- When we speak less, we avoid saying something we’ll regret later. This slows us down so we can come to a safe stop.
What triggers your anger? How can you be ready to listen more and speak less? Consider the last time you got angry. How was your listening-to-speaking ratio?