We hear a lot of opinions, ideas and verbal exchanges today based on nothing more than fleeting ideas racing across emotional minds. How many people deeply think about what they say – before they say it? Better yet, how many even think of the repercussions of what they say?
God has quite a bit to say about how we communicate to each other as a species:
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”(Jam. 1:19).
Many people have a horrible self-righteousness problem and God tells them, “Don’t think you know it all. Be swift to hear, and slow to speak!” Isn’t that the opposite of how we communicate? Don’t we speak swiftly and not listen much at all? No wonder there is so much miscommunication and irritation during conversation.
Above all, we have to be swift to hear our Father – wide open to receiving His instructions. And here, even Christians or religious denominations fail miserably. How many times does the Bible tell us to do something and it is misinterpreted, distorted or simply ignored so that an alternate version of the instruction can be practiced? A good example of this is the law of God. The Bible is replete with instructions – from beginning to end – about obeying God’s commandments, yet too many spiritualize them away. That is NOT how we listen to our Father – by ignoring His clear instructions. Instead of giving our opinion (being swift to speak), we should obey more (by listening to instructions – being swift to hear).
James also tells us to be slow to wrath. We should never let our emotions get in the way because the wrath of man does not contain the righteousness of God (Jam. 1:20). Will you let anger turn you from your Father, or will you be swift to hear Him? We must always allow God’s righteousness direct our anger, or we will make many mistakes.
We also must be slow to speak. The Proverbs talk about this a lot:
“In the multitude of words, there wants not sin: but he that refrains his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19).
“He who guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin” (Prov. 13:3, RSV).
“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit than he that takes a city” (Prov. 16:32).
What does all this tell us? God loves people who can rule their spirit. The implication of that proverb is if you can rule your spirit, God will give you rule over much. We absolutely must rule our emotions.