Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (James 1:19 KJV)
Wouldn’t that solve some problems!!! I’ve used this admonition a couple of times in the last week and it appeared to leave people with questions. For me, that’s much better than getting into arguments where no one wins. Why are we to be slow to speak, slow to show our wrath?
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:20 KJV)
If we are to set Christ’s perfection as our goal, we need to read further.
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (James 1:21-22 KJV)
What? “Superfluity of naughtiness”? OK, so it’s over two syllables per word. It means an over abundant excess of something wicked, evil or morally wrong. That’s what we exchange for meekness through the Word of God. Meekness does not strike back through wrathful words, no matter the source or accusation. Usually, though, we are not meek. We defend with all haste and with any weapon at hand. Our closest weapon is the tongue. James continues,
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. (James 1:26 KJV)
There are times when devout Christians find their tongues unbridled, going against their daily witness. James spends a bit of the third chapter looking at the damage a tongue can do.
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! (James 3:5 KJV)
I read recently of a brushfire that was caused by the striking of an errant golf club against a stone. A small spark kindled a huge fire. Often, fiery words spark huge blazes, too. Words have the ability to ignite passions, often for good but too often in wrath. Remember, man’s wrath does not work God’s righteousness. That’s a very good equation to keep in mind.
Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (James 3:10 KJV)
What goes into our minds will come out of our mouths. That is best seen in children who have not learned subterfuge, but say what they think. Very early, what they think is what they hear. They are marvelous tape recorders and we should use them to judge our own words.
Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. (James 3:11-12 KJV)
If there are discords or accusations, discuss, not attack nor defend. Perhaps perceptions of a given situation can be adjusted, education acquired. Once we learn James’ lesson bridling.
For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. (James 3:2 KJV)
We are not perfect. We will offend. Let us attempt to do so meekly and with love.