Quick to Listen but Slow to Anger and Speak (James 1:17-26)
In our day and age, it’s popular to say that you’re spiritual but not religious. Often, what is meant by this phrase is that you’re against organized, institutional, or a hierarchy that give structure to religion and spirituality. In today’s episode, we continue our exploration of James, and we discover what James means by “being spiritual—that is“true religion.” Bottom Line: Being religious means that we have to walk the Way by being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.” (NRSV)
All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change. By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. So put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls. But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in a mirror. For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out—he will be blessed in what he does. If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile. (NETS)
Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes down from above, from the father of lights. His steady light doesn’t vary. It doesn’t change and produce shadows. He became our father by the word of truth; that was his firm decision, and the result is that we are a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, get this straight. Every person should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. Human anger, you see, doesn’t produce God’s justice! So put away everything that is sordid, all that overflowing malice, and humbly receive the word which has been planted within you and which has the power to rescue your lives.
But be people who do the word, not merely people who hear it and deceive themselves. Someone who hears the word but doesn’t do it, you see, is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror. He notices himself, but then he goes away and quickly forgets what he looked like. But the person who looks into the perfect law of freedom, and goes on with it, not being a hearer who forgets but a doer who does the deed – such a person is blessed in their doing.
If anyone supposes that they are devout, and does not control their tongue, but rather deceives their heart – such a person’s devotion is futile. (NT Wright)
Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, descending from the Father of the Luminaries, with whom there is no alternation or shadow of change. Having so resolved, he gave birth to us by a word of truth, so that we should be a kind of firstfruits from among his creatures.
Know this, my beloved brothers: Let every man be swift to listen, slow to speak, slow to indignation; For a human being’s indignation does not accomplish God’s justice. Hence, putting away every defilement and surfeit of evil, receive in gentleness the implanted word, which can save your souls. And become doers of the word, and not only hearers, thus deluding yourselves. Because, if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing the face he was born with in a mirror; Because he has observed himself and gone away, and has immediately forgotten what he was like. For the one who has gazed intently into the perfect law, which is one of freedom, and has stayed there next to it, becoming not a forgetful listener but instead a doer of work—this one will be blissful in what he does. If anyone fancies himself religious while not bridling his tongue, but instead deceiving his own heart, his religion is empty. (David Bently Hart)
πᾶσα δόσις ἀγαθὴ καὶ πᾶν δώρημα τέλειον ἄνωθέν ἐστιν ⸀καταβαῖνον ⸁ἀπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς τῶν φώτων, παρʼ ᾧ οὐκ ⸀1ἔνι ⸂παραλλαγὴ ἢ τροπῆς ἀποσκίασμα⸃. ⸆βουληθεὶς ἀπεκύησεν ἡμᾶς λόγῳ ἀληθείας εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἀπαρχήν τινα τῶν ⸀αὐτοῦ κτισμάτων.
⸀Ἴστε, ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί· ⸂ἔστω δὲ⸃ πᾶς ἄνθρωπος ταχὺς εἰς τὸ ἀκοῦσαι, βραδὺς εἰς τὸ λαλῆσαι, βραδὺς εἰς ὀργήν· ὀργὴ γὰρ ἀνδρὸς δικαιοσύνην θεοῦ ⸂οὐ κατεργάζεται⸃. διὸ ἀποθέμενοι πᾶσαν ῥυπαρίαν καὶ περισσείαν κακίας ἐν πραΰτητι⸆ δέξασθε τὸν ἔμφυτον λόγον τὸν δυνάμενον σῶσαι τὰς ψυχὰς ⸀ὑμῶν.
Γίνεσθε δὲ ποιηταὶ ⸀λόγου καὶ μὴ ⸉μόνον ἀκροαταὶ⸊ παραλογιζόμενοι ἑαυτούς. oὅτι εἴ τις ἀκροατὴς ⸀λόγου ἐστὶν καὶ οὐ ποιητής, οὗτος ἔοικεν ἀνδρὶ κατανοοῦντι τὸ πρόσωπον τῆς γενέσεως αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐσόπτρῳ· κατενόησεν ⸀γὰρ ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀπελήλυθεν καὶ εὐθέως ἐπελάθετο ὁποῖος ἦν. ὁ δὲ παρακύψας εἰς νόμον τέλειον τὸν τῆς ἐλευθερίας καὶ παραμείνας⸆ οὐκ ἀκροατὴς ἐπιλησμονῆς γενόμενος ἀλλὰ ⸇ ποιητὴς ἔργου, oοὗτος μακάριος ἐν τῇ ποιήσει αὐτοῦ ἔσται.
⸂Εἴ τις⸃ δοκεῖ θρησκὸς εἶναι ⸆ μὴ ⸀χαλιναγωγῶν γλῶσσαν ⸁αὐτοῦ ἀλλʼ ἀπατῶν καρδίαν ⸀1αὐτοῦ, τούτου μάταιος ἡ θρησκεία.