Right attitudes in listening, speaking and becoming angry, by Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg Bible Study material on James 1:19-27.

Introduction
In our previous lesson, James draws our attention to the fact that God chose to give us new birth through the word of truth. Today’s lesson develops the theme of right attitude required in handling the Word (James 1:19-26) especially in the midst of trials. In other words, to James, the word of God must be an important factor in our discipleship journey. Therefore, having described the audience as brothers and sisters, James seems to offer a piece of general advice to everyone (James 1:19). James’ instruction can be discussed around his three suggestions pertaining to listening, speaking and becoming angry. Accordingly, the value of being active listeners, slow to speak and slow to become angry will be studied.

1. Actively listening to the Word and practising it
In relation to the word of God, James advices that Christians are to be quick listeners. In other words, they are to be eager, ready to listen and attuned to God’s word. These serve as a positive and humbling attitude needed in receiving the teachings of the word of God (James 1:21).
To James, actively hearing the word must lead to doing (1:22). Hence his urge to the Christians to do what it says. Receiving the word and not putting it into practice is like a man who forgets what he looks like after looking at himself in a mirror. To James, Christians have not adequately listened to God’s word if it does not lead to practice. Listening and continue doing therefore result into blessings in all that is done (James 1:25).

2. Being slow to speak and thus controlling the tongue
Not listening appropriately leads to unwise speech. Thus, James advices that we are to be slow to speak especially in times of trials. Significantly, in our desire to hear from God, we are to learn to be slow to speak. Great learners practice quick listening and slow speech simultaneously. This is a way of saying that those who want to hear God speak are to desist from being impressed by their own voices. James teaches further that controlling the tongue serves as a worthwhile mark of a true religious person (James 1:26).

3. Being slow to become angry and living righteously
James further urges that followers of Christ are to be slow to become angry. This presupposes that some forms of anger are appropriate. That means when an anger is controlled and limited in duration, it can become appropriate. In that case it can strengthen the soul when it is directed towards sin and not to individuals. Although Jesus used anger in the temple to clean out the money changers, anger did not become the only means through which Jesus achieved his aim. Uncontrolled anger, however, could be harmful in that it does not bring the righteousness that God desires (James 1:20). In that case, misguided anger could destroy relationships and marriages, organisations, churches and nations.

Conclusion
In this lesson, James advices us to put up appropriate behaviour needed to receive God’s word and be blessed by it especially during times of trials. To James, God’s word are to be received by attentive ears. We are also to do away with the things that prevent us from applying our hearts to obeying the word. Moreover, we are to desist from what makes us to be become angry easily and to talk too much.

Questions
1. What kind of inner voices hinder us from being active listeners to God’s word?
2. Describe two attitudes of believers that James describe as self-deception.
3. Why is tongue control so important to our practical Christian life?
4. Identify some things and circumstances that make you to become angry easily. What are you to do when you become angry?

About revfosu

Rev. John Kwasi Fosu is an ordained Baptist Minister of the Gospel, a Biblical Theological Lecturer and a Doctoral Candidate at Hamburg University
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