The epistle of James has three themes that recur throughout the letter: trials, wisdom, and poverty and riches. We find these three themes in that order in ch 1, vs 2-11, where the first cycle of these themes are first laid out. Then in ch 1, vs 12-27, James repeats the three themes, but he expands and elaborates on them. We saw last time we met how James expanded on the theme of trials, going deeper into the distinction between trials and temptation and their outcome.
Sunday’s text brings us to the 2nd sermon of the second cycle. In vs 19-26, James now elaborates on the theme of wisdom, particularly in the area of speech. He brings this out in v 19, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” James starts off with the command, “Know this,” but at the same time addresses the brethren in a loving manner “my beloved brothers.” James uses the force of an imperative verb, but does so pastorally in a loving and tender manner. Then he goes right to the point: “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” The English verb “let” may sound like merely a wish or desire from James, but it again is an imperative verb, and so a command from James and ultimately from God. James goes deeper into each of these commands; first “Be slow to anger” in vs 20-21; second “Be quick to listen” and finally in verses 22-25, “be slow to speak.”
In the 2nd section, “be quick to listen,” there is a well-known text that each of us would do well to memorize and also apply to our lives as believers in Christ. It is James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”