James 1 and Meek Speech: You Win a Fight by Learning from It

Dan Sullivan   -  

[19] Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; [20] for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. [21] Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:19–25 ESV
Here James lists three activities that most of us have a chance to do every day:

Be Angry

He then makes a comment on one of them, that is really a comment on all three.

The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God

What if the way we do these things can really produce the righteousness of God? What if the way we hear and listen to someone speak can show off the Gospel? What if not just our speech but our slowness to begin our speech can show off the wisdom of God?
I spoke too soon and too abrupt to a Lakota Indian once and got cussed out in two different languages. I learned a lesson: be slow to start speaking.
The very next verse takes us through how the character of Jesus can become our character and His life can show out through ours.
There are two opposites here: receiving God’s Word with meekness and rampant wickedness. One of those is patient and slow like watching a bunch of tomatoes grow. The other is like mowing down a bunch of flowers with a push mower. Meekness is patiently watching and listening to everything a person has to say and not having the need to show off with the solution to everything. Meekness is trusting that God has the answer and like Daniel or Joseph interpreting a dream, waiting on God will bring wisdom.
One could argue whether it takes more energy to sit still and listen or to blab on and on with opinions and solutions. James isn’t saying to be silent, he is saying don’t start talking before you’ve found your voice.
The easy way out of all of this, of course, is to get angry. We honestly blame our anger for things we say and things we do as if it’s a force we can’t control! If there were really such a force that would control us in such a way, you’d think we’d be more afraid of it.
Being meek and slow gives us time to listen to God. Being meek and slow gives us a chance to see that God should get the glory in this conversation and not us. Being meek and slow turns every conflict into an opportunity to learn something about another person, about ourselves, and about God.