Slow to Speak

Scripture:  James 1:19, 20 - So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

God gave us two ears to hear, two eyes to see, two nostrils to breathe, but only one mouth
to speak.  Yet, in opposite proportion, God says far more about the potential good and damage
speech from a mouth can do to others.  Impulsiveness of our behavior can in general do much
harm because it springs into action without control and forethought.  When this becomes a
matter of our words, we tend to underestimate the impact and far reaching implications of
impulsive or anger driven speech.  The phrase “slow to speak” is not a matter of the speed of
speaking, but a matter of consideration and appropriate control with our words.  This phrase is
surrounded by three guiding principles to help us in this matter of being “SLOW TO SPEAK”.
 
 One of the ways to help us with consideration and control is that we must be “QUICK TO
HEAR”.  It is not just hearing, but the quality of hearing that we refer to as listening.  It not only
enables us to fully understand or interpret meaning of words being spoken to us, but time to
accurately assess our own self-control to those words and develop appropriate, even godly,  
responses out of our mouths.   Soft answers that turn away wrath (Prov. 15:1); Sure words that
speak the truth (Eph. 4:15); and Seasoned words with grace (Col. 4:6), require being quick to
hear and process before we speak.

The second matter to devote ourselves to in being slow to speak is being “SLOW TO ANGER”.  Anger, without any controls will always be selfish and vengeful.  In the heat of the moment, being slow to speak is critical to avoid irreparable damage with words that cannot be taken back, nor can the words, “I am sorry” erase the trauma of remembering that they were ever said.  Slow to anger causes impulsive, thoughtless, inconsiderate words to be avoided with the hope that peaceful resolution, reconciliation and love can prevail. The Wisdom Book of Proverbs has many references about anger management, but Proverbs 16:32 sums them all up when it likens being slow to anger as a person who can show their strength when they rule their own spirit.

The third point of devotion is to remind ourselves that our purpose in life is to accomplish the righteous purposes of God.  The most extensive and direct teaching about God’s concern on
tongue and speech control is found in this Book of James.  Of all the cautions that He gives us,
God says, “with it (the tongue) we praise God and with it we also curse men who are made in
the likeness of God’s image.  From the same mouth come blessings and cursing. These things
ought not be so my brothers and sisters.”

Prayer:  Father forgive me for the times that I have been unguarded and out of control with my speech.  Please help me as per the request that that Your servant David asked of You, “Set a   guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”  Amen.

(by Pastor Wayne Cockrell)

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