We have people to see and places to go, work to be done. Productivity and ingenuity travels at light speed.
I am beginning to see more awareness and appreciation for slow. I see more articles and news media about the health benefits of slowing down, taking a moment, and embracing rest for the benefit of our minds and bodies.
What I don’t see, yet, is media and awareness about slowing down in another way – slowing down our words.
Some of us, like myself, have a lot to say and it all just comes gushing out. This seems to be encouraged in our culture, particularly with the advent of the social media posting platform-
Say what you feel!
Get it off your chest!
You’ll feel so much better!
I have had the devil whispering these very things in my ear. He placates our consciences to shove thoughts about how to say it well, how to speak considerately down deep. These false promises are keeping us from looking for the best perspective, speaking in love, and with the listener in mind. Until the deed is done and the words are out and the guilt and shame begin. He pours that on thick too.
James gives us a simple and direct suggestion, that we would be wise to heed.
We can be bold, to stand up for what matters, but we also need to slow down.
Let’s start with James 1:19-20 and hear James’s simple command:
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.
Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…
Look at the order of the words in the text. We often start with a simple discussion. We are listening and sharing. Then the discussion gets going and the words come faster. We hear less, we speak more. Then our blood starts to boil.
Slow to is such a simple concept, we could miss it. God also shows us slow to by the very compilation of Scripture. The words of the Bible, were offered slowly, over the sands of time, not hastily through one individual. Our God does everything perfect, completely righteous. James’s words are part of that Holy Book, breathed out by the Trinity.
What other wisdom on this does James offer us then? Let’s look through a few more passages in James, keeping them in the context of slow to.
…and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
How is it helpful at times to not always rush to mercy in the moment, but to think for a minute about what we can and are willing to offer? Slow to…
2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things…8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
How is so much in our lives driven by our tongues? How can it affect big decisions and close relationships? How can it impact even the smallest decision and brief relationships?
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.
When have you seen it words poison and when have you seen them bless? How has social media and our rapid communication abilities impacted and amplified the consequences of this?
But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. 13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
How can we slow our yes-s and no-s? What benefit might there be in that? How do prayers and praises affect our speech and our perspective?
may look a little different from the world around us, but isn’t God’s way always like that?
May your ways be slow and your words be filled with His praise today!
Which passage sticks out to you the most? Choose one segment, from what we just went through, and reflect on the questions.
Let’s pray for one another today and ask for guidance for our words and actions. Any prayer requests in particular?