When it comes to family, friends, neighbors or other members of your congregation, do you hear? Are you truly listening in conflict, or just waiting for your turn to yell your point of view?
Do you let your anger and hurt feelings drive your actions? Do you often find yourself wondering why you reacted the way you did, or having to apologize for your behaviour?
Let’s turn to James:
James 1:19-20 KJV
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.
Ahh, as usual, God has a clear plan for the way in which we conduct our lives, on how we interact with one another.
Let’s break this down:
Swift to hear: This of course meaning that we spend a great deal of energy hearing what is being said, not just waiting for the noise to stop so we can speak. Truly listen to what is being said in context. Be compassionate to another’s point of view. Listen like you are truly concerned with them being heard.
Slow to speak: Here is the one most of us fail at. We must NOT just fly off the handle and spout the first thing that comes to mind. Think about our words, the effect they will have, and what we are truly trying to say. Back in the 90s the WWJD was a big fad, but in this case, think about it like that. Could your words come from the mouth of Jesus? Would you speak the words to Jesus? I would venture to say that given that criteria, most of us would not have a lot to say when angry! (This is a good thing!)
Slow to wrath: The last and most important part. Your anger and retaliation, at its very core. It should take a lot for us to get to this point. A lot of us tell everyone to be careful because we have a short fuse. I caution you however, because we control the size of that fuse. The Lord made us with compassion and understanding, we cannot use our decision to ignore that as a justification for laying wrath down at every opportunity.
The last line sums it up pretty well. Our wrath can never work the righteousness of God. To be frank, our goal here on earth IS to work the righteousness of God. Therefore, is there ever a time when wrath is appropriate? I don’t think so.
Please keep your emotions, your thoughts and your actions in line with the will of God. Let not your wrath overshadowed God’s righteousness through you.