One of my YMCA trainers sometimes encourages her class to do some arm and leg movements quick, quick slow. Doing the exercise at different speeds allows us to use our muscles in different ways and increase agility. The variety of movements and speeds benefits our bodies in different ways.
James’ words of instruction do not advise us to do certain things quick, quick, quick slow, but to do them quick, slow, slow. Following his God-given instructions will enhance our spiritual lives.
James encourages us to be quick to hear. Having two ears is much more valuable than the better
aesthetic look we would have with only one ear. Having two ears means we wisely spend much more time listening than speaking. It means we should be much more ready to listen than to speak. Each time we pray we should ask ourselves how much time we are spending listening for what our Lord has to say rather than hurrying through requests and rushing off to do other things we “must” do. We should also ask how quick we are to hear what others want to tell us whether that be information, encouragement or constructive criticism.
James also advises us to be slow to speak. Some people will become impatient when we respond slowly and might even take that slowness as a sign of intellectual weakness. But taking time to think about how we will respond helps us avoid hastily spoken words we may immediately regret. We can never take them back, as much as we would like to do so. Taking time to respond may give our Lord time to bring to mind words that will edify, bless or encourage the other person.
James also advises us to be slow to anger. Being slow to anger makes it less likely that we will do or say something angrily that we will immediately regret. Notice that James does not say, “Never be angry.” Think about the day our Lord drove the money changers out of the temple in righteous indignation. Paul writes, “Be angry and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26) From these verses of Scripture, we see there is a time to be angry but it should be brief and for good cause. Some things aren’t worth getting angry about and we may stumble into sin when we do. Other times confrontation in righteous indignation is demanded. Wisdom comes in knowing the difference. Examining being quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger will bless others and work to our benefit.