Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20 ESV
I have always been quick with an answer. Even when I don't know the answer, I am ready to say, "I don't know." For the past few years I have been working on being slower to answer. To think about what the other person is asking or saying. It is not easy. What is easy is to have an opinion already formed, an answer prepared or an argument in my back pocket just ready to be used.
God's Word says otherwise. James 1:19-20 ESV says,
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Hence the Quick, Slow, Slow. Be quick to hear. It is more than just hearing what another person is saying, it is about allowing your heart to process the words being said. Are they words of encouragement? Correction? To have a quick answer is not giving your head or your heart time to process. Be patient with someone who is listening to you. Give them time to process before answering. Here's where the slow comes in. Be slow to speak. God wants us to have relationship with one another. In order to have a real connection with someone we must first listen, then hear what they are saying. Give yourself time to wait for an answer. This is where I struggle. I want to respond, but if I respond too quickly, then I may offend or even miss completely what someone else is saying to me. So why the slow to anger? If the words that are being spoken are words of correction, out of love, then the words MUST be processed through the heart. Hear past the words and understand where the other person is coming from. That is the biggest battle for me and where often the enemy wins.
When we are quick to answer or quick to anger, we miss God's Grace that He has for us. Matthew 18: 15-17 ESV says,
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
No one likes correction, not even me. But if we are to be more like Christ we must be refined by God's Word.
And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, “They are my people”; and they will say, “The Lord is my God.” Zechariah 13:9 ESV.
This has been a journey for me, to reverse the "fox-trot" from Slow, Quick, Quick to Quick, Slow, Slow. To be refined by God's Grace is a process, a marathon, not a sprint.
Father God, I ask You to open my ears quickly to hear, make my words slow to respond and to seek the Holy Spirit for the true intentions of the words that are spoken. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.