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Taking on the Tongue

FAITH AT WORK: Devotions through the book of James

“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). 

Non sequitur is a fun expression to say, although many prefer apples over oranges. And there it is, a statement that does not logically follow and disorients us. 

That’s what James seems to do. He throws us a curve ball. One minute he’s talking about trials; the next about the tongue. Has he shifted subjects or is he telling us something else we need to hear about trials and how to handle them? 

He appears to be following a thread, something that relates to trials, or perhaps better put, management of ourselves in trials. James begins by saying, “Know this, my beloved brothers.” He wants us to lean in and listen intently. 

He goes on, “let every person be quick to hear.” Therein lies our thread. James brings to bear personal responsibility. He looks us each in the eye and calls us to manage ourselves. In just the few verses we have covered so far in chapter one, James has emphasized individual responsibility seven times: “if any of you” (v. 5), “let him ask” (v. 6), “that person” (v. 7), “the man” (v. 12), “each person” (v. 15), and now “every person” (v. 19). 

The thread that weaves its way through trials, temptations, and now the tongue is individual responsibility. We are responsible to act and to react in a manner consistent with being a believer in Jesus Christ. Later, James will say that we are to be doers of the word. The onus for carrying out that mandate rests on us. 

That’s the way faith works. While faith may be a gift of God, we are the ones who exercise it through Christ.

“Lord, help me to figure out how I can honor You in whatever circumstance.”

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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