Have you ever responded to someone or something out of anger? Out of emotion? Out of bitterness? Have you ever said something that you didn’t really mean, but only felt at the time? Have you ever hurt someone because you hurt?
My sermon on Sunday was from James as he was talking to the twelve tribes about listening and doing.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: 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. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
James 1:19-21 NIV
Sometimes as I read stories from the Bible I feel far from them because they were so long ago, but you know what? These people struggled with the same things we struggle with today. These people threw fits of rage, lashed out at others, shut down, and wrecked lives and relationships all because they responded without truly hearing what someone else was saying.
As I think about the instances in my life when I’ve been quick to respond with humanness instead of prayerfully constructed answers or actions, it ain’t pretty. In fact, it’s true ugliness that I often regret as soon as it’s all spilled out.
The common denominator in each of my own fits is that I wasn’t really listening. I was in such a hurry to respond that I didn’t slow down to listen. I didn’t take the time to understand what the other person was saying, feeling, or dealing with because I was too wrapped up in my own fear, hurt, or selfishness.
People can be broken. They can say things that bring us down, but we don’t have to fall apart. People can be awful. They can be cruel and say things to intentionally set us off, but we don’t have to blow up. As James said, it’s not worth it. In fact, it’s evil and produces nothing good.
So instead let’s start to…
Respond with grace and truth instead of wrath and emotion.
Just hurry up and slow down.