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“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)

I think many times, I read James 1:19-20, and apply it to one moment. After all, it’s the way I learned it as a kid, where you’re supposed to breathe deeply before responding to the kid who knocked you over or cut in line. It’s supposed to prevent a fight or escalating a conflict. It’s an “easy” verse in that it’s one of the ones that’s so applicable to everyday life. You get mad, you take a breath, you listen and then you respond.

However, as I’ve pondered it the last couple of months, I’ve come to realize it’s so much more. Maybe I’m a little late in coming to this view. But I’ve found that it applies to more than just that one instance in time when you need to take a moment to calm down. I think it brings to surface a deeper issue, in that why are you so quick to react in anger or bitterness? I suppose that’s where the title of this post comes from, because many times we react a certain way because we’re carrying around baggage. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder, or too much on our plate. I know the latter is quite true for me, having full-time work, and at least for this quarter, full-time lab classes right after work three nights a week. Not to mention, there’s that one time that this thing happened, and I just can’t take it anymore … Sound familiar?

When you continue reading the rest of the chapter, it talks about God’s Word being planted in you and from that gaining freedom. But in order to let that grow, you have let go of anger, bitterness, even the stresses of life – things that hold you back from the peace that comes with giving it all to God. Again, easier said than done. For me, it’s a choice and a prayer to try to not be stressed out. It’s a choice to not “take it out” on those closest to me. When I give it to God it’s easier to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger” in more than just that one moment.

Miel can be reached via email here.

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