The one who is slow to hear, quick to speak, and quick to anger is described in terms of unrighteousness, filthiness, rampant wickedness, forgetfulness, a deceiver of his own heart, and worthless religion. We need to be humble hearers who do what we hear and see in God’s Word. We need to put off proud prattling, in which we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are religious people who don’t need to respond to God’s Word.
In James 1:19, James commands his beloved brothers to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Quickness to hear before speaking too soon is a biblical principle (Prov 18:13) and a wise way to go about conversations. Soft answers turn away anger (Prov 15:1), and James tells us that man’s anger does not produce God’s righteousness (James 1:20).
Therefore, what does James tell believers to do? If man’s anger—tied to a slowness to hear and quickness to speak—doesn’t produce the righteousness of God, then it must be put away. Notice the words that James uses in this command: “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness” (James 1:21). Filthiness. Rampant wickedness. These are strong words God uses to describe one who is not quick to hear, but rather quick to speak and quick to anger.
Putting off is one side of the command. The other side is what we are to receive and how we are to receive it—“receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). This hearing of God’s Word with humility seems to be James’ big idea when he tells believers to be “quick to hear.”
If quickness to hear God’s Word is a mark of humility, then its opposite—quickness to speak and anger.