The right-living think before they speak,
but wrongdoers simply spew evil.
The things we say and how we say them reveal an awful lot about us. I am sure you, like me, have heard someone speaking before we’ve met them and we’ve made judgements about them from their words and tone of voice. Sometimes those impressions are wrong but they often still influence our interactions with that person.
If we do that to others then it stands to reason that others do that to us so the question becomes: what impression do my words leave with others? Perhaps this is why James had some wise words.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
James is saying don’t be hasty, don’t rush to push your opinion forward, be wise, listen and give God time to speak to you so that your response is both valid and valuable. It’s when we rush to speak that we spew out things that hurt people, things that make us angry because the other person doesn’t listen. It’s when we don’t think before we speak that we say things that would be much better either unsaid or said differently.
…The heart overflows in the words a person speaks;
your words reveal what’s within your heart.
That’s a sobering thought don’t you think? We can do lots of ‘good’ things, we can go to lots of meetings and give lots of money but it’s our words that reveal what’s in our hearts. Admittedly those other things also come from our hearts, from our desire to serve God; to love Him and our neighbour. But it’s the words we speak in haste, the words we speak unthinkingly that reveal what is truly inside us.
Taking time to think before we speak allows the Holy Spirit time to speak to us. It allows Him to teach us, to change us. It allows Him to remind us what Jesus said. It allows Him to show us how to love. It allows tempers to cool not just ours but the other person’s when we don’t react as they expected.
Jesus was silent before the Sanhedrin. He spoke only when He had the right thing to say. I hope that one day I will be able to live like that. That one day I will be silent rather than eager to share my opinion, my thoughts, my words. Silent until the right time and silent unless the Holy Spirit gives me the green light to speak. I hope that sincerely and ask God for that right heart daily. It isn’t anywhere near perfected yet but I keep on asking and live in the hope that, as I seek day by day to be a better listener, as promised my hope won’t be disappointed.
We have a good and gracious God who delights to make us like Himself. It’s not an instant process – it takes diligent searching after Him. Listening is a good place to start.