Humbly Receiving the Implanted Word
19 My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:19-21)
From verses 19 to 27, James shows the value of the Word of God in the believer’s life and the dangers of lacking application. Starting with verse 19, this verse can apply both to interactions with one another on a daily basis and also the Word of God. First, let’s look at how it applies to our interactions with others. “Quick to listen” means that we first listen to what the other person is saying, taking the time to understand what was being said and not just hearing them say words. “Slow to speak” means that we take the time to formulate what we are going to say, instead of instantly reacting to the words being spoken to us. Finally, “slow to anger” is just that, instead of allowing anger to take control and make snap reactions to something being heard, we are to control that emotion, depend on God’s wisdom, and respond in peace and calculated words.
Next, let’s look at how verse 19 applies to the receiving of God’s Word. “Quick to listen” means that believers should have a sense of eagerness and joy to hear and obey the Word of God. “Slow to speak” means that believers should take the time to understand God’s message and apply it to their lives before making any rash decisions. Finally, “slow to anger” is a warning to believers to not have anger or hatred against others, for it distracts one from hearing God clearly.
Verse 20 supports the end of verse 19 on why believers should be slow to anger, “for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.” Commentator Max Anders writes, “The anger prohibited by this passage is not so much a flashing, destructive temper as a simmering pot of hostile, mean-spirited feelings.” Human anger can lead to further sinful actions. Proverbs 29:22 warns that the “one given to anger causes much transgression.” Giving into anger, as warned by this passage, causes more division and turns the focus away from the task at hand for believers, accomplishing God’s will, His righteousness.
Finally, in verse 21, instead of allowing anger to take reign within the heart of the believer, have the “implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.” The Word of God gives life to the believer and causes growth. The prerequisite is to be “ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent.” Believers must obey God’s Word, especially removing the sinful habits of old, such as giving into human anger and being mean spirited to others. Also, notice how we are to obey the Word we receive, “humbly.” Anders says, “We must not quarrel or quibble with God as we receive his message. We must receive the spiritual medicine which our divine physician prescribes for us.”
Therefore, may we keep in our minds and hearts “quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger” as we interact with others each and every day, as well as apply it to our daily walk with God. May we remember that human anger only distracts and hinders us from doing God’s will, and therefore, not give into it. Finally, may we allow the Word of God to take root within our hearts, making room for it by removing those past sinful habits and attitudes.
Isaac De Guzman