Yesterday as I sat in church and listened to a sermon on anger and being “quick to listen and slow to speak,” I smiled to myself. Knowing that this was the very same topic for today’s Marriage Monday post, and that I don’t believe in coincidences, I figured this must be a topic that God really wants to point out to me. ; )
Honestly this is one area I already know that I struggle in. I am not “quick to listen and slow to speak,” and as a result, bad things happen. My husband and I get angry with each other, I get angry with my kids.. it’s not pretty. Why? Largely because I’m not patient. I’m in too much of a hurry. I assume I know what they’ll say, what they mean, what they’re asking for and I shoot an answer, a reply or an argument right back. In my head, I’m always in such a hurry.
James 1:19-22 (ESV)
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Especially in this fast paced world, but just in life, there’s a blessing that comes with taking it slow. Slowing down, listening, understanding, contemplating a response, speaking with well chosen words – this is something worth working on and achieving. I’m not saying turtle speed but I think you get my meaning.. take a breath. CHILL. Be quick to listen. Be slow to speak. (And think, or pray, or both, before speaking!)
James 3:3-10 (ESV)
If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
Our words can heal or they can hurt. They can bless or curse. Words can help or they can hinder, build up or tear down. They are very versatile these words and yet we are so quick to wield them. On another note, we do the same thing with God. In our Sunday morning bible study we are learning about prayer. We are quick to speak, and often too busy to listen – when again it should be the other way around. And again we need to wield our words with intention and open our ears for understanding.
Why? Because this is love. Speaking is often self centered. LISTENING is “others centered.” We listen to and make effort to understand others because we love them, or to show an act of love and kindness even to a stranger. And when we draw our words from their sheath with love and kindness, we treat others with respect as well. Respect that, honestly, we all crave for ourselves. Let us do unto others as we’d have them do toward ourselves!
Proverbs 29:11 (ESV)
A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back
I don’t have a checklist or a plan for putting this into action. Just a motto for this week. “LISTEN. THINK. SPEAK.” Easy enough, right? When someone starts talking to me – listen, think, speak. When my children have a story or my husband has a request, the moment their voice begins to echo in my ear – listen, think, speak. I imagine this will take lots of practice. Knowing myself, this will take LOTS of practice. But if I love my family as I say I do – don’t they deserve the effort?
(Side note! My friend Tabitha, at Meet Penny, is doing a series on Mommy Rage right now.. I thought it was worth mentioning!)
If you would like to join in, the rules are simple. Link up an encouraging post about marriage with the direct url to the post. Next week’s word is “Reliable.” Join us then for more Marriage Monday!