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)
On Monday we began a three-part series of articles about three keys to kingdom living. As I said, this is not just about living a self-controlled life, but more specifically a “Savior-controlled” life. Part One presented the first key to kingdom living: being “quick to listen.” Today, we will look at the second key: being “slow to speak.”
KEY # 2 – Be slow to speak!
James makes it clear that the twin towers of clear communication are being quick to listen AND slow to speak. Scripture has much to say about the critical importance of being able to control the tongue.
Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. (Proverbs 17:28)
Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them. (Proverbs 29:20)
Most of us have heard the wise adage, “We have been created with one mouth and two ears, so we ought to be listening twice as much as we are speaking.” Let me encourage you to reflect for a moment: does that saying describe your communication style? We can all look back at our lives and recall the times when we were not slow to speak and the problems that caused us. Have you ever said something that you wish you could take back as if it had never been said? We have all done that because we are all fallen, broken, and hurting. And know this: hurting people hurt others. When we feel hurt or attacked, our default mode is to lash back with words designed to hurt.
Perhaps no better advice outside of the Bible was ever given than these profound words from St. Francis of Assisi: “Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.” When we seek to understand another person more than we seek to be understood ourselves, we will be slow to speak and quick to listen. This is a sign of great maturity and humility, and being “quick to listen, slow to speak” are keys to ministering to others at their level of deepest need.
So . . . let me ask you a very similar question to the one I asked on Monday: on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your ability to be slow to speak? How would those closest to you rate you? This second key to kingdom living unlocks the door leading to being slow to speak.
Next, we will take a look at the third and final key: slow to become angry.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!