My dearly loved brothers, understand this: everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger,
for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.
After a quick word study, I learned A LOT about these two short verses. In the interest of brevity, though, I’m only going to share one two three points. (Okay, three is a lot, but they’re all important.) :)
1) “Understand” means to know intimately and be devoted and adherent to. That means know it and do it.
2) “Hearing” involves attending to what is said (really listening), and attempting to comprehend both the words and the meaning behind them.
3) “Anger” can also refer to other intense emotions, and Thayer’s Bible Dictionary also describes this particular Greek word as “impulse, desire, or agitation of the soul.” This, therefore, can include strong reactions of hurt, disappointment, disgust, and despair, in addition to anger.
a) It can thus be reasonably inferred that we are to make sure we fully understand the situation before reacting.
b) Our reactions to comments others make can easily (we are human, after all) be assumptive in nature, based on what we believe the person to be saying, rather than what the person is actually saying.
c) There is a difference between human anger (which is most often actually an expression of another emotion such as pain, fear, or lust) and godly/righteous anger (which is a reaction to an injustice and motivates people to action to correct the injustice - think Jesus in the temple).
So how do we apply this to our daily lives? We must learn what God wants us to do and then do it. We must be intentional about listening to what people have to say. We must refrain from assumptive (judgmental) thinking. We must learn to not assign meaning to what people say, but instead to be intentional about trying to understand a person’s motive and heart in addition to the actual words that s/he speaks. We must love each other enough to truly hear (listen to) what is being said. Then, we can show God’s love to others via our response. (This is not to say we should not confront untruth or injustice, but that is a discussion for another day!)
Whew! I am SO thankful for Philippians 4:13!
Lord, forgive me for times when I’ve been judgmental (assumptive). Teach me to hear with Your ears, and understand with Your heart!