I know, I know, some of you out there probably think that my brain is sleep deprived and not operating correctly… and while there may be some truth to sleep deprivation, I think my picture of Donald Trump is gaining a lot of merit as time goes on. I have followed him fairly closely since the beginning of the presidential campaign a couple of years ago and noticed that over time, much of the so-called “reckless comments” he made have actually come to pass!
I believe that he knows exactly what he is doing with many of the things he says. I laugh pretty much everyday at the way he masterfully plays the mainline media. He’ll throw out a thought and without any depth of analysis the press goes into a feeding frenzy with their conspiracy theories, self-righteous editorial comments and all out criticism of anything that has to do with him or his administration!
These interesting interactions play right into line with what Pastor James says in James 1:19 when he wrote: “Remember this, my dear brothers and sisters: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and should not get angry easily.” (God’s Word ©) In regard to our President and the press, I see the exact opposite of this verse happening. What seems to instantly unfold when these interactions take place is that the press is SLOW to hear, QUICK to speak and gets angry RATHER EASILY!
I noticed a similar pattern over the years when people around us questioned our actions and I was quickly frustrated because I couldn’t understand why they reacted the way they did and what facts their words and actions were based on. It definitely didn’t line up with the truth of the situation. But as I have been studying this verse over the last few days, I have begun to receive a clearer picture of what may have been happening in our experience as well as with the mainline media in regards to the President…
The word “hear” that we are called to be quick about is the same word from the scripture we studied at the beginning of the year as found in Luke 2:18. If you’ll recall, the Apostle wrote concerning the events surrounding the events of the night when Jesus was born in Bethlehem at the beginning of the gospel story saying “Everyone who heard the shepherds' story was amazed.” (God’s Word ©)
The Greek translation of this word means: “to understand, perceive the sense of what is said.” (Thayer’s) What I am beginning to sense in both situations I spoke of, is that the responders seem to totally miss the true sense of what was said. They were so quick to give their two-cents of the situation that they by-passed the real meaning of what was stated. I’ve also noticed that these quick responses are usually accompanied with and fueled by anger.
James addresses the destructive consequence of the anger in the next verse by stating: “An angry person doesn't do what God approves of.” Or as the Good News Translation puts it: “Human anger does not achieve God's righteous purpose.” (James 1:20) I found it even more interesting when I read the definition of “anger” or “wrath” as the KJV puts it, in The Preacher’s Homiletical commentary where the action is described as “an abiding, settled habit of mind with the purpose of revenge.”
Ah! Now that begins to put the picture together for me… how about you? The reason that God’s order for us to really hear and understand the “sense” of what is being communicated before responding gets mixed up is because the hearer has already formed their own opinion of the situation… no matter what the speaker is attempting to convey! Thayer’s Greek Definitions defines “anger” as “the natural disposition, temper, character or impulse.” For Christians, I deduce that to mean that we would be too quick to respond to what our eyes see without first running it past God’s thoughts on the situation as stated in His Word!
I read an interesting statement in a book by E.W. Kenyon last night just before I turned the lights out. It set off so many bells within my heart that I thought on it all night long! Mr. Kenyon wrote concerning the Word of God that “It becomes a Living thing in my heart as I lovingly act upon it. It becomes a living thing on the lips of love. It has no power on the lips of those whose lives are out of fellowship with Him, who live in the reason realm.” (New Creation Realities, E.W. Kenyon, page7)
I have come to believe that as Christians we can be strong and firmly committed to God in certain areas of our lives but yet be lacking or even out of fellowship with Him in others. In the sense of what we are discussing today, we could say that there may be areas in our lives where we still live within the “reason realm” and therefore have a hard time “hearing” the words of others who have turned that area in their lives over to God and His truth on the matter. It is almost like we’re living in two different worlds… because we are! It’s hard to talk about another’s world if you’ve never been there and know nothing about it…
So, what is our responsibility in line with the previous verse in James that we talked about in Monday’s blog post ("Special Words"-4/2/18)? Well, since we have a special place in God’s heart and in His sight, we are to humbly do today’s verse that starts out by saying “Wherefore!” in others words, because of our special place and calling as a Christian, we are to treat others correctly by being “quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (GNB)
I once had the nickname of “The lawyer” with my new boss at Agilent Technologies after we attended a meeting with the Personnel Department where we were discussing the termination of one of my team members. He liked the idea that I took my time before speaking and considered everything that was said and documented about the situation before giving my opinion. To be perfectly honest though… some of that was simply because I was new to the area and didn’t know all the facts of the situation that I had inherited! But still, it is the way that I’ve always tried to operate… not that I’m always successful… but it is a goal I strive for!
So, hopefully that will give you something to consider this week! Take the time to really understand what is being said before you give your opinion and refrain from getting angry about the situation… even if you don’t agree with what’s happening. I’ve found out the hard way that ANGER SABOTAGES GOD’S GRACE! Think about that!
Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to really ‘hear’ what others are saying to me today?”