November 2023 Column
Slow To Speak
How do we stand out in a world full of lashing out and abandonment? As young adults, we must stand firm in how we live and, most importantly, reflect Christ in how we love. We can do this by following God’s Word and living out the instructions laid in it.
In James 1:19-20 we are told that “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” We are told this, but how do we separate and cultivate righteousness?
Firstly, we are called to be quick to listen. In a world filled with noise, distractions, and conflicting voices, we must be intentional not just to listen but to be still and listen. When a person is still, it is easier to listen. That stillness is not just physical but emotional and even spiritual. Understanding, empathizing, and connecting with others is essential, and when we are quick to listen, we build stronger relationships and gain valuable insights. Being still and listening also creates a spiritual avenue to build a stronger relationship with our Creator and, by default, helps us reflect the heart of Christ in our interactions with others.
Secondly, we are encouraged to be slow to speak. Our words can build up or destroy, encourage or discourage, inspire or wound. Being slow to speak allows us to reflect and determine the value of our words. Reflecting and keeping calm allows us to avoid hurtful remarks and unnecessary conflicts and practice self-control with ourselves and others. Being slow to speak allows us to share the same wisdom and grace bestowed on us by our God.
Lastly, we are urged to be slow to become angry. Anger is natural, but what is done with that anger can lead many to bitterness, resentment, and unrighteous actions. Ephesians 4:31-32 reads, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you”. The emphasis here is to be kind, tenderhearted, and to forgive, even as Christ forgave you. Whether in the moment of anger or resentment built up, we are to follow the example set before us. Being slow to become angry does not mean suppressing our emotions but instead submitting them to God’s guidance and allowing His love to shape our responses.
The passage in James 1:19-20 reminds us that human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. True and lasting righteousness is cultivated through intentional practice with our Savior and, in response, with others. When we communicate with God first, righteousness is seen in our willingness to listen, speak words of life, and respond with grace.
Questions for Discussion
As young adults, we face many situations that provoke us to anger. Whatever disagreements, challenges, or injustices we face, we are called to respond in a way that reflects the righteousness of God. It may not always be easy, but we stand apart in a world full of sin and hate by cultivating righteousness. By being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, we reflect God’s love in how we live and interact with others.
Embrace this call to cultivate righteousness. We stand out by following in how God has shown us His love and patience. By clinging to His Word, may we quiet the storm within us to help us endure the storm outside. We must have His peace inside to offer the world the peace that God gives. As we cultivate righteousness, may our words and actions be a testimony to the transforming power of Christ in us.