19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
17 Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
None of us are perfect. We all mess up from time to time, and hopefully, are consciences are tender enough for the Lord to lovingly correct us, pick us up, and send us on the right path. But sometimes our hearts have been hardened, and we don’t want to hear correction. The mere suggestion that something might not be right is met with our flesh rising up and lashing out in anger. The flesh is fighting for its life. It does not want to lay down and be over taken by the seed of image of Jesus Christ, planted in us by the Holy Spirit. It will convince us that we are right, and that our discomfort is because of the other person, and our anger is a “righteous indignation”.
This is why James tells us to be “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” When we refuse to listen to others, cutting them off before they can finish their thought, we can miss what the Lord may be trying to tell us. When we get angry quickly and allow ourselves to be offended by the message, then we trample the opportunity for the Lord to correct us, or prune us. And that behavior does not produce righteousness. Self-righteousness is not a fruit of the Spirit. It is a work of the flesh, and we must be vigilant to shut it down when it rears its ugly head.
The Lord uses each of us in the body of Christ to sharpen, or hone, each other. Paul says in Romans 12:3:
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
We must be careful not to surround ourselves with an entourage who will only tell us what we want to hear. A faithful friend will try to tell us the truth in a loving way. It is up to us to be willing to receive it in a loving way.
Finally, God loves us so much, that he won’t give up on us. If we rebuff correction time and time again, He will keep at it. If you find yourself in the same ugly circumstance time and time again, that would be a clue. Stop and listen. And be quick to love.