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SLOW TO SPEAK

Slow to Speak

 

In James 1:19 we are given three commands: Be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath!  These are given to us in the context of our willingness to receive God’s word with a submissive heart.  We are challenged in verse 21 to “humbly receive the word God has planted in your hearts.”  How do you receive God’s word?  Is it the absolute authority in every area of your life? The real challenge is not just to hear His word but to also do what it says.

The word of God is able to transform our lives and because of that fact we are to continually remain submitted to its truth.  It begins by listening closely, quick to hear, to His voice in our lives through scripture and the Holy Spirit.  In the Message I love how it words Pro 3:5-7, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart: don’t try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all.  Run to God! Run from evil!”

The second command, slow to speak, is tied directly to the first.  Once we are placing ourselves in the position to hear from God that will enable us to speak correctly when the time comes to speak up.  There are two things your speech should accomplish.

  • First, it should edify those who hear it.
  • Second, it should honor the Lord!

How wonderful it would be if every time we spoke those two things were true?  Jesus was full of grace and truth.  Our language must be controlled by a heart that is grace-giving and truth-telling.

Here are a few guidelines as you embrace this truth of being slow to speak:

  1. Say what you mean and mean what you say! Matt 5:37 says, “But let you ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.”  If you tell someone you are praying for them it means that you are actually praying!  You don’t have to swear on a stack of bibles to convince people you are honest because your life has demonstrated that your word can be trusted.
  2. Listen more and talk less! The simple truth is that if you are talking, you are not listening.  But when you do talk you should make sure that you choose your words wisely.  Make sure they are centered in His word and controlled by the Spirit.  Pro 17:28 says, “Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent, discerning when he seals his lips.”  When you speak to quickly you may win the battle but lose the war.
  3. Your opinion is just that, your opinion! All too often we speak of absolutes that are not absolutes but rather just our personal preferences.  We get all hung up on things that really do not matter while people need to hear the gospel.  Think about this, what is distracting you from fulfilling the Great Commission?  We say we love the lost and have a burden to share the love of Christ with them.  Are we regularly doing that?
  4. Telling it like it is does not necessarily mean that is how it is! This is closely related to number three but there is usually a greater arrogance here.  This individual presents themselves to be the only who has figured it out and the only one who has been able to detect the real truth.  They see this “telling it like it is” as their spiritual gift and no one else really sees it as a gift.  Remember we are admonished to speak the truth in love!
  5. Just because you sincerely believe it does not mean that you are correct! It certainly appears that James is addressing some people in the church who were saying and teaching whatever happened to come into their minds.  This is why in Jam 3:1 he says, “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, for we all stumble in many ways.”  You may be sincere in what you believe but have you studied the scriptures on the matter?

We have a tremendous responsibility to speak correctly in a way that is consistent with the word of God and directed by the Holy Spirit.  We should be careful about the advice we give, how quick we are to give our opinion, and how convinced we are that we know what needs to be said.  James spends all of chapter 3 explaining the importance of the proper control of the tongue and our need for God’s help in controlling it!

“Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” -Col 4:6