“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”–James 1:19-20
When you were growing up, did you ever practice saying tongue twisters quickly? I remember one that said, “Sally sells seashells on the seashore.” One old time actor used to use tongue twisters to warm up his speech before a scene. This is the twister he used to say over and over before going on stage: “Betty Botter bought a bit of butter, ‘But,’ she said, ‘this butter’s bitter. If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter. But a bit of better butter will make my batter better.’ So Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter, and it made her batter better.”
Tongue twisters may be fun to say, but what about real tongue twisters? Those situations you face when your tongue seems to get you in trouble. The tongue is a powerful member of our body that if not guarded can cause great harm.
How often have our tongues gotten us in trouble? God’s Word is filled with warnings about the power of the tongue yet many times our lips move faster than our brain. Our verses give us three tools in controlling our tongue.
First, God tells us to “be swift to hear.” One of the main reasons we find ourselves regretting what we say is because we don’t spend enough time listening. Someone once said, “We have two ears and one mouth so we should be twice as eager to listen than to talk.”
What would happen if you committed to hearing a full story before you judged someone? What if you decided to listen to your spouse before yelling at them? What if you also opened your ears to God’s teaching rather than excusing away your sin? God desires that you would resist the urge to speak immediately, and listen.
Second, God tells us to be “slow to speak.” Of course this tool ties into being swift to hear. No one can be fully engaged in listening while they are speaking. Too many people are only concerned with what they have to say, rather than what others around them are saying. The next time a hurting person or a downtrodden friend comes to you, rather than offering advice right away, allow them to speak while you listen. Who knows, you may be able to share the Gospel with an unsaved person by being slow to speak.
Last, God commands us to be “slow to wrath.” Anger can be displayed in many forms, one of which is through our speech. When treated wrongly, our instinct tells us to react, respond, and retaliate. But God wants us to be slow to wrath, to step back and allow God to handle the situation.
As we live this Christian life, we will face many difficult battles. Perhaps one of the hardest will be the battle with our own tongue. Our tongue not only has the power to uplift or destroy, but it also reveals what is truly in our hearts. That is why God emphasizes the importance of being swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to respond in anger.
Is your tongue under control? Or do you often carelessly let comments slip and later regret them? God desires that you would use your words for good, and would spend time listening rather than talking. Take time right now to listen to God’s Word. Read His words to you and respond in submission. Determine that this week you will be mindful of your responses and think before you speak.–From Daily in the Word