Today’s Reading: James 2
My dear brothers and sisters, pay attention to what I say. Everyone should be quick to listen. But they should be slow to speak. They should be slow to get angry.
As I write these words, I am acutely aware of the climate of our world right now. When I pictured what 2020 would look like this time last year, it most certainly didn’t involve social isolation, national protests, and the quietest camp summer since Mini-Yo-We’s inauguration.
And murder hornets. Seriously.
As a kid growing up
I was amazed at how much news my parents would watch… it never really fascinated me. Lately, however, I find myself tuning into the news more and more in hopes to understand what our world is going through right now. My ears and eyes have never been more open to the struggles, trials, pain, excitement, confusion, and sorrow of people around me. And, as the prehistoric 34 year old that I am, I have spent more time than ever reading what people have to say on Facebook. For me, it has been fascinating seeing how everyone has reacted to the past three months. Much of what people have had to say has been very emotionally charged, and I certainly don’t fault them for that. These are emotional days we are in, days where you can feel the pain in the air.
In these times, I am reminded of James’ instruction to fellow believers. He reminds us that we are to be “quick to listen”, “slow to speak”, and “slow to get angry”. These words, written nearly 2000 years ago, are fantastic instructions for us today as we navigate the current climate.
As believers, we should be quick to listen.
There are those around us today that need to be heard, that need to now they have a voice. The best thing we can do for them is to say “I hear you, and I’m listening”. Truthfully, if we hope to bring about any change in our world for the glory of Jesus, it has to first start with listening to our neighbours. And trust me, you’re going to need to listen a lot more than you think. Only then, after listening, can we truly apply gospel out of love.
As believers, we should be slow to speak. Notice how James doesn’t say “we should be mute”. Quite the opposite, with Jesus as our Saviour, we have the words of life! We have the good news of Jesus Christ, and we should apply that good news to everything around us.
But there’s a process… Listening comes before speaking.
As I mentioned before, speaking truth in love can only really come from knowing the recipient to whom we are sharing the loving truth. I’ve heard it said “people won’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care”. We have a responsibility to bring the saving news of Jesus to the world, but I would argue that sharing that good news is best done after showing the world we care by understanding them better. James encourages us in verses 22-25 to not forget what we’ve read in the scriptures, and to be sure to apply them in our lives. We are to be doers of the word, not hearers only.
As believers, we should be slow to become angry. I think this one is fairly obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. This might actually be the area I struggle most in. My initial reaction to seeing the world in turmoil is to get angry with people who don’t see it my way. I just want everyone to hold hands and love Jesus and eat camp’s Monday take-out pizza, simple.
But things aren’t that simple.
Sin has taken God’s original plan for peace and distorted it. That is the world we are engaged with… a disordered world. Fortunately, Jesus came to give it order, and He has chosen us to do that through! Our job is to literally bring the Kingdom of God into this world and into the lives of those around us. We do that through love, not anger. James finishes the chapter by encouraging authentic love of our neighbours, not simply hollow religion.
Friends, continue to look around you and listen to those who feel they don’t have a voice. Let them know you’re listening, and listen to them. Then, choose your words carefully, since we have the words of eternal life. If possible, love those around you practically. They will know us by our love.
A Digital Refresh is a regular series for the staff at Mini-Yo-We.
When we gather together for worship and learn from God’s word we call it “Refresh.” Even though we aren’t at camp we can still gather together to share God’s word through a Digital Refresh.
For more resources check out our summer staff resource page.