My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, – James 1:19
I always read the book of James with a great deal of introspection. Of all the books in the New Testament (or the Old Testament, for that matter), this is the book where it seems I fall short in my Christian walk. I do pray that my brothers and sisters in Christ will be quick to forgive my shortcomings.
It’s not that we should not speak – or speak up – or speak out when necessary. We just need to listen before doing any speaking at all. I’m reminded of a famous quote:
Speak only if you can improve upon the silence. – Gandhi
It’s human nature to want to speak up or speak out. I’m living proof… I write a daily blog! It’s the equivalent of speaking up and speaking out. I hope and pray that to those in my real life I come across much differently. I really do purposefully listen when I’m spoken to. I try to hear what’s being said before responding – and reply with thought and after asking God to give me the right words to say. His Holy Spirit gives me wisdom to respond in the right way, with a proper temperament.
We need to remember that a quick temper is never an asset in character, but a liability. I’d rather have a quick wit than a hair-trigger temper, wouldn’t you? Isn’t it better to laugh than to get your knickers in a knot? I think so. A tendency toward laughter rather than anger is not only what God wants for us, but it will keep us healthier and happier.
I want to be quick to listen and slow to speak – slow to react and with God’s help I won’t over-react. The book of James is a challenge for most of us, I think. Love TRUMPS judgment and laughter TRUMPS anger. Listening TRUMPS speaking and prayer TRUMPS worry.
We have so much to learn, and we’ll never learn it all, but with God’s help, we will get better every day. The Message says we should lead with our ears and follow up with our tongue. It takes discipline, but with practice we can hear – really hear – and let it sink in before offering a response to what we’ve heard. If for no other reason, we should do it because we’re told to – but remember, once those words come out of your mouth, you can’t just reel ’em back in, ya know. 🙂