There's something about James. Poor guy almost didn't make it through the process of being canonized in Scripture. Can you imagine the Bible without James? Can you imagine the phrase, "be doers of the word and not hearers only" being dropped to the cutting room floor?
But God was in control of things when the sixty-six books of the Bible were put together. And I'm glad. I can understand why some didn't want James in the Bible. James pulls no punches. James is like the snarling, stomping, spitting evangelists that once roamed up and down the aisles of churches. Tough to take, at times. But full of truth we need to hear whether we like it or not.
My favorite section of James is in the first chapter. In verse 19, James barks out orders like a commanding officer, "Now hear this!" Then he gives the follower of Christ very specific orders. Three very specific orders that, when applied to our relationships and discussions, could spare us a lot of misunderstanding and conflict.
"Be quick to hear." The word in the original language is "tachus" where we get our word, "tachometer." James is telling us to check the speed of our hearing. Hearing is usually not the pedal of choice for a heavy foot. We tend to stomp on the gas with our mouths instead of our ears.
"Be slow to speak." Living in East Texas, I am quite familiar with slow speech. I've seen locals that can drawl an "a-men" out for so long that I could eat a candy bar before continuing with my sermon. But James isn't talking about stretching syllables. He means, "slow to begin speaking." Once you have listened well, THINK before you speak.
"Be slow to anger." Will Rogers said it well, "People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing."
These three, taken together, can make a world of difference in your life. They are eliminatory. If you are quick to hear and you listen well, you will be less likely to pop off or speak hastily. And if you listen well and speak wisely, you will be less inclined to have boiling, bubbling anger spew the lid off your conversations.
So, to translate James 1:19 in a perryphrase format: "Pay attention! Be quick to respond with your ears (listen well). Be slow to begin with your mouth (muzzle your mouth and consider what you've heard before speaking). Temper your tantrums."
A softer, gentler fan of the saucy, gritty James...