Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; for the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us].
Living a life of faith is not merely a matter of believing but a matter of doing. This includes not simply what we do but how we do it. The above counsel from James tells us to listen quickly and speak slowly. However, these are not distinctions. The manner in which we listen is the same as the manner in which we speak, which is deliberately. Likewise, being slow to anger requires thoughtful consideration so that one responds and does not simply react. Reactions are impulsive; responses are thoughtful.
These instructions from James require that we operate with the spiritual fruit of self-control. The testing of our faith occurs when we are presented with the choice of whether to apply a measure of control to our behavior and speech. The goal is for our controlled response to progress from a conscious effort to a reflexive habit. As we grow in faith, we grow in our exhibition of spiritual fruit, which is the production of God’s righteousness. It is evidence of his movement in our lives.
God’s actions are thoughtful, purposeful and deliberate. He does not act on impulse. Acting in a Godly manner requires the same of us. And while we cannot muster the requisite measure of self-control on our own, the Spirit of God can produce this righteousness in us as we walk in faith. Father, prepare us for these times of testing so that we may respond in accordance with your Spirit, exhibiting Godly self-control.