“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow
to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore
lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the
implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1: 19-21, NKJV).
The effects of reading God's Word should be observable in our lives. James provides
several practical examples. God gave us two ears and only one mouth. Should we not
be twice as swift to listen and learn? A wise person will listen to others and answer
only when he or she has something worthwhile to say. Ahimaaz, the messenger in 11
Samuel 18:19ff., was so eager to speak that he ran off to King David without having
received anything substantial to report! Like him, we are often hasty to pass judgment,
to deliver an opinion, to give advice, to answer a question, before we have taken
the time to become fully informed.
The strong admonition to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”
may be a reference to the readers' accusations against God's righteousness, both
in the individual soul and in the world at large. There is such a thing as righteous
wrath, but there is also a wild and uncontrolled wrath which works much trouble.
It does not advance the best interests of the cause of God.
The Bible condemns such sinful anger. Our Lord said: “Anyone who is angry with his
brother will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:22). The application of this verse
for us is a warning against unwarranted anger that issues from pride and that desires
the injury of the other person.
Jesus condemned the methods of the disciples on several occasions when they tried
to use human force to accomplish God's will. While the “Sons of Thunder” (in Luke
9:51-56) and Peter (in John 18:10, 11) thought that their stand against the powers
of darkness was motivated by righteousness, the real cause was uncontrolled emotion,
the fury and frustration of being thwarted in the act of doing good.
James speaks about something the Christian must lay aside, put away, pull out by
the roots: “moral filth.” Every form of uncleanness, in thought, word, and deed,
must be rooted out of the life of the Christian.
“The evil that is so prevalent” might suggest to some that only excess of evil is
to be put away. Every Christian brings into the new life in Christ much that is inconsistent
with it. This “excess baggage” has to be completely laid aside, however, that the
new Christian give himself or herself more thoroughly to the positive work of receiving
the implanted Word of God.
The statement “the word planted in you” suggests a process of propagation. Only as
the Word is really implanted does it become united with the heart. Unless the Word
becomes rooted in us through faith, the fruit of righteousness cannot be brought
The people today are not unlike those to whom James wrote. We not only need to hear
the Word of God clearly but also to put the Gospel to work in our daily lives.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22).
Michael W. Cochran
Christian Writer/Freelance Writer