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Know this, my beloved brothers: let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger (James 1:19)
James says know this (οἶδα oida), which is an imperative and a reference to the fact that these Christians are “a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” ‘Knowing this’ is suggestive of action not so much awareness, which they had. Remember, Jesus said to his disciples that “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:17) A Christian in a righteous standing with God will act on what he knows to be true about God. The apostle John tells us, “No one who abides in him [God] keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6) As he has done previously, he calls them “my beloved brothers,” (1) to draw their attention to an important point (2), and to let them know that this applies to him as well as them. In essence, James is saying; you know that God has made you a kind of firstfruits by the word of truth, meaning that you should feel privileged, by evidencing your new Christian personality, living up to being a disciple of Christ.
Just as ‘knowing’ in the above was suggestive of an action, so too, quick to hear (ταχὺς εἰς τὸ ἀκοῦσαι tachus akouō) is suggesting obedience. (John 8:37, 38, 47) In other words, ‘to hear is to obey.’ Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt. 11:15) We should not fail to hear aright. It takes more than hearing the audio sound of what is being said, so as to hear with understanding. We are challenged to pay close attention to what the speaker has said and to ask ourselves what he meant by the words that he used. The apostle Paul wrote, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17) What did Paul mean? He meant that by taking in the Word of God, our faith and sureness grow in God, as we see the outworking of his promises. If we are not obeying the Word of God, then, apparently, we have not truly heard the Word of God. We want to move beyond being hearers to being doers as well. All self-importance, willfulness, preconception, and personal opinion should be set aside as we humbly hear the Word of God. We should long for the Word of God, seeking it and being eager to obey.
Slow to speak (βραδὺς εἰς τὸ λαλῆσαι bradus laleō) means that we should ponder what we are going to say. (Prov. 15:28; 16:23) This certainly does not mean that we can never speak. We are to proclaim the Word of God, as we are to contend for the faith and defend the Word of God and to speak the Word without fear. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20; 1 Pet 3:15; Jude 1:3, 22-23; Phil. 1:14; 1 Thess. 5:14; Eph. 5:15-16) However, we should not use the Bible as a tool to help others until we have incorporated the Word of God in our lives first. Then we can more clearly see how we might use it to benefit another. (Rom. 2:17-24) Paul speaks to Timothy about those “desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.” (1 Tim 1:7) We do not want to use God’s Word to offer advice counsel, comfort, or even to console until we have first used the Word of God effectively in our lives. The reason for this is simple; the Bible is a book for all those things and more. However, it can be misused in the hands of anyone, who does not have a correct understanding of what it means and has not truly experienced its ability to transform by way of application.
James closes his proverb with one last obligation to the Christian, that of being slow to anger (βραδὺς εἰς ὀργήν bradus orgē). Injustices surround us in this wicked world, filled with imperfect people, who lean toward sin and are mentally bent toward evil. Yet, James counsels us to work in harmony with Scripture and prayer to keep our anger under control. Because this is in context with our being obedient to the “word” of God, clearly any analysis of the Word of God must be treated with the correct mindset and heart condition. If we are upset to the point of being angry, he will likely be blinded to the value that lies in the Word of God. (Prov. 19:3) He will not see the light while in a provoked state of mind, let alone be able to apply the counsel in his life in a balanced manner. If another has made us angry by saying something inappropriate or mistreating us in some unjust way, we need to slow down, to avoid responding to them in kind, i.e., some vicious, hostile, spiteful comeback, which will only serve to escalate the anger and the void between them and us. There are times to be angry with righteous indignation, but after that Paul warns us, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Eph. 4:26) This is why we combat the irrational thinking, which contributes to anger, with slowing down and rationalizing the situation before we respond.
 See Matthew 11:15; 13:43; Mark 4:9; 4:23; Luke 14:35; Revelation 2:7, 11; 3:6, and 13.