Isn’t that verse just awesome? I’ve read James before, but honestly, I’ve never really taken particular note of that verse until now.
Just the other day, Jeffrey was looking over one of his assignments for school. For language arts, we’re using Total Language Plus, studying the book The Sign of the Beaver. Total Language Plus covers a comprehension, grammar, spelling, and vocabulary all surrounding a particular book. It also has Bible verses related to the book. We’re so excited that all of our curriculum now contain references to the Bible, something that has become very important that we introduce in our lessons.
Jeffrey came across this particular passage as part of his study, and he and mom took time to look it over and discuss it. Later, they decided that it was a good verse to share with the entire family.
As we discussed the verse, and also took time to look up some study notes regarding the verse so we could dig deeper and unpack the verses a little bit. When we took the time to really read the verses and pay attention to them, we realized that these are important verses for our family.
While we are working very hard to have family discussions instead of arguments, and listen instead of talking too much while someone else is talking, we still slip up sometimes and get in that “me me me” mode.
I wanted to share with you guys some thoughts that my study Bible had on these verses. While they seem pretty straightforward in saying “Listen. Don’t talk too much. Don’t get angry too much.” there is a lot more to these verses than what’s on face value.
First off, I wanted to share Jeffrey’s reasoning behind the verses. He’s eleven, but he bears a lot of good insight into the passage. When we talked about it, he simply said “You should be slow to speak. Otherwise, you might say something really stupid and make someone angry.” He is totally right.
My study Bible says that when we’re talking too much, and not listening enough, we’re communicating that our ideas are more important than anyone else’s ideas. James is saying here that we need to do this process backwards… we need to take the time to listen first, and put others first, instead of being selfish. Think about it. When you’re having a conversation with someone, and they’re just taking the time to talk about their viewpoint, do you really feel valued? Do you feel like they really care what you’re saying? Or do you feel like they might have a bit of an ego, thinking about what they have to say rather than paying attention to what you are saying?
Have you ever met one of those people who talks and talks, and then when it’s their turn to talk, they’re not focused on what you’re saying, but instead, they’re just waiting for their next time to speak? Yeah. It sucks when that happens. I hate being in conversations with people who are just waiting for their turn to speak. But, as much as I hate to admit it, there are many occasions when I am one of those people.
In addition, these verses hold a little more hidden meaning. When it says we should be slow to become angry, James is speaking about a very specific kind of anger, it seems. You see, it’s okay to get angry about sin and injustice. We need to have anger when others are being hurt, to help stop those injustices from happening. James isn’t saying to just lie down and take these beatings… he is saying that it’s still okay to stand up to fight for others against injustice. What he is speaking against here is that “ego anger.” You know what I’m talking about… the anger when you are upset, when your ego is bruised… the anger where you say “My ego is hurt. I am hurt. My opinions aren’t being heard. Me. Me. Me.” We don’t need to be angry when we aren’t winning an argument, or when we’re feeling offended or neglected. That’s selfish anger, and it’s all about you.
And I’m selfish angry fairly often. Just today, when I was trying to read what my study Bible said about this particular verse, and instead of taking the time myself to listen to what it was saying and to reveal God’s truth about this passage in my life, I was upset because Jeffrey was working on finding some lunch at the time, because he didn’t drop everything he was doing to listen to me. My ego was bruised. I felt upset that I took the time to go get my Bible and look up the passage and Jeffrey wasn’t even giving his 100% attention to it! I had worked on that specifically for him, and he didn’t even listen!
It’s then that I realized that I was really being kind of a jerk. I was doing exactly what James was warning me not to do! And I was even doing it right as I was reading what I should be doing, but instead was doing the opposite.
It’s definitely something I need to pray about, because it’s something I still struggle with.
Is this something that you struggle with? Do you experience anger like this sometimes, where your ego is bruised? How does this passage from James reflect what you feel regarding your own anger?