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James 1:19

ESV Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
NIV My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
NASB You know this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger;
CSB My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger,
NLT Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
KJV Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

What does James 1:19 mean?

The opening passage of James instructed believers to maintain trust in God, even during hard times. In fact, believers are to consider their hardships as "joy," since trials are how God strengthens our faith. This raises the question of what it means to remain faithful to God—to continue to trust Him—even when the trials of life come our way. For one thing, those who trust God continue to obey Him. Starting in verse 19, James begins to describe what that obedience looks like.

Those who trust and obey God learn to adjust the speed of their listening and speaking. If God is truly in control, we can afford to take the time to understand. Rather than shooting from the hip, we can respond in a way that is helpful. Doubting that God is in control speeds up our mouth and slows down our mind.

As believers, we shouldn't be obsessed with ensuring that we are heard and understood in order to get what we want. When we act according to our immediate desires, and our immediate reactions, we feel a lack of control. And when we feel like we're losing control, we will get angry.

Notice that this is not a command to never feel anger. Anger is a human emotion that everyone experiences, and it can be justified. However, James' instruction here makes it clear that we can learn to control—or at least slow down—our angry responses. In fact, to refuse to let anger control us is itself an act of faith. It is a choice to believe that the Father is in control, that He loves us, and that He is good.

The next verse makes clear why learning to control our anger is such a big deal.
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