As a former high school teacher, understand this is code for get ready to listen. The author of the first Catholic Letter in the New Testament uses understand this as a transitional statement. Following a short section on God as the Giver of All Good Things, James provides practical advice that should be applied daily. This isn’t optional for Christians. Rather, it’s mandatory and necessary to become the person that God wants you to be.
Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. 20 For man’s anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires], James 1:19-20.
In the passage above, James gives instructions for becoming a student of God’s Word. When you’re eager to learn, you won’t interrupt the teacher every time a thought pops into your head. Rather, a ready listener is slow to speak as you contemplate and meditate upon what you are hearing. Perhaps, this is what Jesus meant by the expression “don’t just be a hearer of the Word, but be a doer of God’s Word.” Before acting out in anger, students of the Bible are better prepared to avoid sinning while angry.
So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls, James 1:21.
Before you start feeling good about yourself, James calls all Christians to clean up your life. This isn’t just a New Years resolution that will fade away by the Spring. Rather, weeding out any addiction or bad habit from your life will result in subtle changes that will culminate in a spiritual transformation. Yet, this is only possible when the Bible is implanted within thought life and rooted inside your heart. Understand this faith comes from hearing the message and the message is the testimony of Jesus Christ, Romans 10:17.
by Jay Mankus