Swift but Slow
James 1:19-20 NKJV
Listening is an art form…it’s a valuable skill to have.
I have to admit until I was older I wasn’t a terrific listener all the time. I did listen when I was having a conversation with one person, but I found it hard to listen when I’m in a crowd. Then I realized when I would go into a crowded room filled with people, I have a mild hearing problem. I was in my 30’s. I tested it and while I can hear when I am one on one, when there is background noise, all I can hear is the background noise.
Even without realizing it, I had been compensating my hearing loss by reading lips.
After that, I discovered even when I tell people I don’t hear well when I’m in a crowd they either don’t really believe me or they don’t know what to do to help me hear. Most of the time they avoid talking to me. Some people continue talking to me and when I don’t get what they’re saying, they get irritated.
I realized what I experience is just a fraction of what a deaf person experiences.
Fortunately, God knows what they experience, and He knows what I experience. In my case, I came to realize that what I lack in hearing, God more than makes up for by speaking clearly to me.
In all of life I’ve found that God makes up for what we lack. Allow me to explain.
In James 1:19, James wrote, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”
I found that when I was unable to be swift to hear because of crowd deafness, it was difficult to speak a response.
That’s not always a bad thing.
According to James that means I was slow to speak. I learned to ask God to speak to me internally when I cannot hear. I asked God to fill in the hearing gaps. Because I am listening to the other person and listening to God, I am naturally slow to speak.
I consider my words carefully.
I also realized when I had difficulties with being swift to hear and slow to speak, I became frustrated. I had to learn to cope with my frustration (anger) and slow it down.
That’s not always easy when speaking to someone in a crowd, or speaking to someone who has the television on.
I found that there are times when people treat me like I’m rude, or even mentally slow because of my silence. God gave me the gift of kindness as one of my main gifts. Kindness is part of me. However, there definitely are times when I need to identify and clarify.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Do not mistake my kindness for weakness.” I realized that I needed to learn to continue with kindness as I hold onto my strength…God’s strength.
It’s also important to point out that speaking slowly has other merits. When we listen with our ears and with our heart, we have a chance to get all the facts before we speak.
James points out that the result of making an effort to hear and carefully considering our response will help us to decrease our anger. James knew anger won’t help the situation.
In James 1:20, he wrote, “for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
The word for righteousness in James is from the Greek word dikaiosynen which means special justification. God gives His righteousness to us when we turn to Him.
I have learned that when elements are negative, it doesn’t produce a positive result.
You may have heard the quote by Ziad K. Abdelnour, “A negative mind will never give you a positive life.”
When we don’t trust God and listen by relying of God for help with our frustration, we are not on track to seek God’s righteousness.
Sometimes we all need to listen, wait, and rely on God.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Consider
Consider what it’s like to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath so you (we) will experience the righteousness of God.
In God, Deborah