Have you ever said something that you wish you could go back in time and have your future you warn the past you, not to say that? Our words can have a positive or negative impact on others. We can’t choose the impact they will have, but we can choose our words.
The Bible teaches how our words are the overflow of the heart.
“…for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45
“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” Proverbs 10:11
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Whatever is in our heart will eventually spill out. We mean what we say even if we didn’t mean to say it. Those moments are an indication it’s time to review and remove what has been allowed into our heart.
Here are three points for constructive social engagements of a Christian.
#1 Be quick to hear.
- The word quick means swift, prompt, speedily, without hesitation.
- To hear means to listen with attention, implies understanding.
Quick to hear means that when someone is talking to us, we give our full attention with the intent of understanding. Hearing and listening are not the same things. We can listen without hearing what is said.
- Listening is merely recognizing what was said.
- Hearing is understanding what was said.
You may be able to listen and recite back the words with 100% accuracy, but without understanding, you’re missing the point.
#2 Be slow to speak.
The word slow means delay, an extended period of time. Slow is not waiting for the person to take a breath long enough so you can interrupt; it’s to encourage comprehension.
How many times have you been in a conversation with someone, and while they are talking, you are formulating your response? This is an indicator that you are not hearing.
- Ask questions to understand better what is said.
- Listen for keywords that describe how the person is feeling.
Remember, you’re in a conversation, not a debate.
#3 Slow to anger.
James may be indicating there’s a correlation between our anger and being quick to talk. He isn’t suggesting that anger is an acceptable response but that we should delay it and hold off that type of response for a long time.
The word anger in the original text emphasizes a state of mind as well as expression. It’s a temperament that leads us to destructive words or actions.
Anger can be expressed in rage, as well as with a calm vengeance. Both are equally damaging because it compromises trust and distances us from understanding.
An angry state of mind, temperament, blocks the righteousness of God from being developed in us.
An angry temperament tears down; it never builds up. The remedy is to put away this behavior. The phrase put away is the act of removing a stained piece of clothing.
It’s not enough to take off something; we have to put something on. We are to receive with meekness the implanted word. What does this mean? The word “word” in Greek is “logos,” which was the unique term John used to describe Jesus.
Upon salvation, every believer becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19.
The Holy Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of truth,” John 16:13, who guides us in all truth.
He is the one who gives us revelation, 1 Corinthians 2:10, who searches the depths of God.
Everything we need to be righteous and godly is planted in you at salvation; we must cultivate it through obedience. Whatever you water is going to grow.
- If we water anger, anger is going to grow.
- If we water obedience, godliness is going to sprout in our life.
How are your conversations? Are you quick to speak and slow to hear, when you should be slow to speak and quick to hear? Or do you fly off the handle when others don’t agree with you?
Focus this week on developing the skill of understanding and not just listening to what people are saying.
Be slow to speak; quick to listen; slow to anger.