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My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, James 1:19 NIV

Have you ever noticed the significant role that rhythm plays in our lives? Of course, we hear it in our music, but our bodies follow a cadence, too. For example, there is the circadian cycle, the sleep-wake pattern of our biological clocks. The beating of our hearts is another important cadence to our well-being. When there are disruptions to these natural rhythms, we can experience medical issues.

James is talking about a spiritual rhythm of quick, slow, slow. The meter he recommends contradicts our worldly tendency to be slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to become angry. The reason James gives for following this rhythm is in the next verse, "because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." Said another way, we will likely produce evil when we fail to listen and open our big traps in anger.

If I were to add another beat to this rhythm, it would be prayer, "Be quick to listen, quick to pray, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." Or perhaps the prayer should come before the listening. Whenever we prick up our ears, we need to be attentive, and the way we are attentive is to be in an attitude of prayer. This advice is true whether it's a casual conversation with friends or listening to the word of God proclaimed on Sunday morning.

The message of James is to put our faith into action, to take what we hear, store it in our hearts, and apply it in our lives so that we represent the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the world. Let what we listen to transform our saying and doing.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (22-24)

Let what we listen to quickly and prayerfully transform our saying and doing.

God, thank you for the simple yet profound advice we hear in James. We confess we don't listen as we should; we try to hear with wrong hearts; we speak when we should remain silent and respond in anger. Forgive us, we pray. Help us to adopt the spiritual, righteous rhythms of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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