This article is the continuation of another article, read here.
Reflect again – Is It Always Best to Speak Your Mind?
When someone agitates us or hurts our feelings, our immediate inner desire would be to speak our minds and say what we think. Take some time and reflect on an occasion when you responded without thinking. Did your response:
- Help the situation?
- Show God’s love for his people?
- Make you feel better and happier?
More often, our response or retort arising out of anger and hurt would have aggravated the situation and would have likely inflicted hurt on all parties involved.
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away from his desires and entices. Then when desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin and sin, when full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” [James 1: 14-16]
When we allow our inner desires to respond to the external push due to our self-centeredness, we as individuals allow ourselves to destroy others and ourselves. This certainly does not accomplish God’s purposes but brings about malice.
“for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” [James 1: 20]
What Should I Do?
The solution lies in James 1:19, which we will be studying closer in the following actions.
“Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
Action #1 – Be Slow to Speak
Discipline yourself to say nothing. Because if you can refrain from saying something on impulse, you will have a victory when you are mistreated.
But Its Unfair, I Have to Say Something
Often, the devil will tempt you to get even. If only you can get one Word in or just say your piece, let the other person know that you know what they did. You’ll say, “Well, if I think it, I might as well say it. “Beware, that’s the devil talking to you right now, or you may be allowing yourself to be indulging in your self-centeredness.
Remember, the deepest wounds are usually caused by words that pierced into the hearts. Often, such wounds are difficult to heal. Restoring a weaker brother or sister from such hurt may take days, months, sometimes years. You may not even realize how deeply your words may have impacted the other person. Therefore, we need to be responsible for what words we allow out of our mouth; if you are overwhelmed with emotions and unable to speak with love, it’s best to rise above it all and say nothing!
I was never a popular boy or belonged to the cool crowd in school. I kept a lot to myself and never really participated in school activities to meet more friends. By the time I left primary school, I only had one friend.
When I went on to secondary school, I continued this anti-social behaviour. But in an attempt to belong to a “cool crowd”, I did join various sporting clubs such as sailing, basketball and swimming. However, my social circle did not change.
I remembered that I longed to be accepted by this group of boys in school. They were cool, good looking and popular among the gals. One day, I spotted this group of boys in the school hall. I walked over and sat down beside one of them. Suddenly, there was silence, and the coolest guy in the group looked at me and said, “You are not our friend”. The whole group stood up and walked about ten meters away from me, leaving me still seated in the middle of the assembly hall, all by myself.
The words that were said to me during that incident affected me so badly. Although I had placed the incident behind me, little did I know that those words would still reside in my heart. I started to believe that I was worthless.
Whenever I spoke to anyone then, I would tremble because of the fear of rejection. I would speak softly and never really dared to look at the person I was talking to. I felt like my worth was measured in that incident and that I was not worthy as a person since they have told me that I could never belong to their group. Even after becoming a Christian, I continued to carry this deep wound with me. It took me ten years to be fully restored.
It was only on a Sunday service where a pastor shared that we do not live to be accepted by man. We live to be accepted by God. We have a best friend that cares and love us. And his name is Jesus. In Joshua 1:5, He promises us, “I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you”.
After that service, I began to declare, “Jesus, you’re my best friend. No matter how the world rejects me or what men have said to hurt me, I have a God that will never forsake me, for he is my best friend and counsellor. “From that day on, I cast all my fears to Jesus and know that he will deliver me from all worries.
As you can see, how impactful words can be. It took away my sense of self-worth and confidence for such a long time. I am sure, if I had the opportunity to speak to that group again, they would never have realized what they had said to me then would have caused such a severe impact on my well being. So remember, be slow to speak. Because if you can refrain from saying something on impulse, you will enjoy the victory.
Action #2 – Be Slow to Anger
Anger is a very dangerous emotion, and we need to be constantly mindful of it when we are angered. The Bible says, “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins” (Proverbs 29:22). Does this mean anger is never justified, or that it is always wrong?
Is it a Sin to be Angry?
No, being angry is not a sin. God gave us the ability to feel. Anger is one of the many emotions he created to alert us of wrongdoings or injustice experienced by other people or us. In Matthew 21:22, Jesus became angry when He saw a man making money from God’s temple, and he forcibly drove them away.
In Psalms 95:10, God was angry when people sin and deliberately turns their backs on Him. “For forty years I was grieved with that generation; and said, it is people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know my ways” [Psalm 95:10]. The Lord has shown us that it is acceptable and natural to feel anger when injustice and wrongdoing are being made from these accounts.
When Is Anger Used Inappropriately?
“An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins” [Proverbs 29:22].
When we are angry with someone, we have to stop and ask ourselves the reason why. Is it because we know God is offended? Or is it because they have hurt us, and we want revenge? If it is hurt and revenge, we need to take a step back and be mindful not to react on an impulse. In other words, be slow to speak.
What Should I Do When I Am Angry?
“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” [Ephesians 4:26].
When injustice is done, it is natural to feel angry. But do not allow yourself to be angry for prolonged periods. Yes, what your brother or sister did was wrong. But ask God to help you forgive him. It is important to surrender your pain to God by forgiving this person.
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses. “ [Mark 11:25 – 26]
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, 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. [Ephesians 4:31-32]
If our loving Father can forgive us for all of our sins, who are we to say that we cannot forgive others. Of course, you may still feel slight feelings of bitterness, but cast that to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to bless that fellow brother or sister.
To forgive someone is a privilege that you have, and it is in your best interest to do. It prevents you from harbouring bitterness in your heart. When you feel bitter, love stops flowing into and out of your heart.
Of course, forgiving a person does not necessarily mean that you will feel better immediately, or you need to be best of friends with that person the very next day. Forgiving someone is the first step in activating God to heal our wounds. If it is the Lord’s will to restore your relationship, trust in his timing. Our God is a good Father, and He will bless you abundantly.
Remember, it is not our responsibility to teach that brother or sister a lesson. But it is in our interest not to indulge in our anger. We can move on by choosing to forgive that person even when it is difficult or when we think that the person does not deserve it. As children in Christ, it is also our responsibility to lead by example by forgiving the person and being mindful of how we choose to respond to the wrongdoing.
Action #3 – Be Swift to Listen
When there are differences among people, be willing to hear the other. People are often stiff in their own opinions because they are unwilling to listen to what others have to offer against them.
What you can do is to listen to the reason and truth provided by all parties. The only way you can do this is to be slow to speak. And when you choose to speak, there should be nothing said out of anger, for a soft answer turns away anger. God gave you two ears and one mouth. Now think about that. It means that He wants you to listen twice as much as what you speak.
Conclusion – Too Much to Take in? Then Remember This
BE quick to hear, but slow to speak, slow to act on your anger. Let us never have to say, “if I’ve only been slower to speak. If I just kept quiet, how much easier things could have been.”
When we are quick to speak, we often make the situation worse or only realized much later that we were wrong, to begin with. So as God’s children, let us save ourselves this unnecessary trouble by choosing to honour God’s Word and applying it to our minds and consequently to our actions. Memorize this verse today.
“Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” [James 1:19 – 20]
The next time when someone confronts you, and you feel a sudden surge of emotions to speak without thinking, be swift to listen to the soft little voice of the Holy Spirit reminding you to hold back.
May this verse protect and keep you in your time of need. Know that Your Father in heaven loves you.