By Alice Northcutt
Today's Scripture: James 1:20, 26
Central Thought: We need to allow time between hearing and speaking for thought and prayer.
A fast pace is a part of our lives in much of North American society. We hurry to complete a job or to win a race; we hurry to get to the sales early so we will have the best choices. We may rush through days, weeks, months, years, and a lifetime at a fast pace. In a society that is driven by pressure to hurry, succeed, and get ahead, it is easy for us to forget that we need to slow down and find meaning in what we hear, say, and do.
It is easy to develop a pattern to hear slowly, speak quickly, and—yes—to get angry quickly. James 1:19 gives us a different perspective on the fast-versus-slow issue. He admonishes us to "be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger," a reversal of the more common pattern for many of us. Why should we be quick to hear? Perhaps it is so we will actually listen to others and hear with our hearts instead with a muddled, racing mind. Maybe it is so we won't draw conclusions before we hear the message.
When I think of someone being slow to speak, I think of Moses' excuse for not wanting to lead the Israelites (Exodus 4:10). I also think of someone who may have mental or physical challenges that prevent a quick response to a question. But the context of James' writing suggests that we need to prayerfully consider our words, lest they be spoken in haste and anger "for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires" (v. 20). James further warns that to fail to bridle one's tongue (be slow to speak) is to deceive the heart and "this person's religion is worthless" (v. 26). There are times that it is okay to be slow, especially when it will prevent harsh, angry words from causing us to destroy or hinder our Christian witness.
Devotional Prayer: Lord, help me to be slow to speak and to prayerfully consider what I say; help me to bridle my tongue.
Today's Bible Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-38:23; James 1:19-2:17; Psalm 117:1-2; Proverbs 28:1