Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Tale of Three Men

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.
James 1:19-20

Here is the man who isn't quick to listen. Listening is a waste of time for him because he already knows what you are going to say. He cuts you off mid-sentence with his retort. He efficiently uses the time you are speaking not to gain perspective but to catch his breath and plot his next argument. He is wise in his own eyes, but not in God's eyes.

Here is the man who speaks too quickly. He has no filter. Whatever enters into his mind comes out of his mouth straight away. He takes no time to consider if it should be spoken, if it is helpful or if it is even true. He simply says what he thinks. In fact, he takes pride in doing so. "I'm a straight shooter. I say what is on my mind," he says. But this is not the mark of honesty, nor is it a trait to be aspired to. No, a Christian ought to be thoughtful in his words. He ought to always remember what damage the tongue can do and seek to harness it (James 3:3-12). Otherwise his religion is worthless (James 1:26). 

Lastly, here is the man who is quickly angered. He goes from happiness to all out rage in 60 seconds or less. His anger moves too quickly for him to determine if it's directed at the right person or even if it's an appropriate response at all. Thus, he often yells at people only to regret it later. It doesn't take much to set him off. He gives no one the benefit of the doubt or the best reading of the details. He quickly believes any gossip he hears and receives any perceived slight in the worst possible light. He never pauses to ask himself questions before his anger runs ahead. He doesn't ask, "Does this person want to hurt me? Do they even realize they are hurting me?" No, this man has incredible insight into the souls of all people. With very few details at all, he can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that his friend attacked him intentionally with the worst possible motives. 

When we look on these three men as a character sketch, it is easy to see that we do not want to be like them. Yet many of us resemble at least one of the three. It would be impossible to calculate how many conflicts in the church would be avoided if we would only follow the advice in these verses. Let's be known for how well we listen. Let's speak less and have fewer regrets. And let's switch our anger from microwave mode to crock pot mode. Refuse to be angry at anyone until you are sure it is the right response. Give them the benefit of the doubt until all the facts are in. Then we will be more like God and our growth in righteousness will not be stunted.  

No comments: