I was praying recently about a situation in my life and as I prayed about it I immediately heard the Holy Spirit speak this verse to me in answer to my problem:
James 1:19, 20 NLT My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight.
Since I have quieter, more passive type of personality it usually isn’t too difficult for me to hold my tongue and think before I speak. But there are times when it gets the best of me and, as a person once said about the little boy when told to sit down and be quiet, he said, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside”. The person on the inside of me sometimes cries out over what is happening on the outside. And I have had to pray that God would set a guard over my mouth and keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3) It is a lot easier for me to deal with my own emotions than to have to go back to a person and apologize for something that I said in haste that hurt their feelings. Words cannot be retracted and always hang out there waiting for the devil, who is the accuser of the brethren, to bring them back to remembrance when they will once again bring the sting of hurt and disappointment to the person to whom they have been spoken. It is with regret that I’ve thought so many times that I wish I could take back the words that I have spoken in haste or anger.
God, through the writings of James, instructs us in being quick to listen and slow to speak and especially when angry because, as my mother used to say, two wrongs do not make a right. What may have been said to me could very well be wrong, but my angry response to it does not produce God’s right way of living; it doesn’t make my angry response any more right than the one who hurt my feelings with what they said to me. In being quick to listen we give ourselves time to gain discernment to understand the underlying reason for what is being said to us, rather than just taking the words at face value. We are more apt to understand the other person’s heart rather than just reacting to the words that are spoken. Time between what is said and the response always gives an avenue whereby we are able to reflect and respond rather than react.
Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Relationships can be really challenging. Human nature compels us to feel that we are right and the other person is wrong. And since we are all human none of us is perfect so we are not right all the time, but we are not always wrong either. However, God’s way, the higher road, is to relinquish our rights in order to live in peace with the other person. He says, “if it is possible”…..unfortunately, sometimes it’s not possible to live in peace with another person, but our part is to do what He asks of us in trying our best to live in peace with them.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
I have often heard that this scripture says that God places some people in our lives as sandpaper to smooth down our rough edges! Different opinions within our relationship cause us to think about our own position, whether we are right or wrong. If there are no challenges there is no room for growth; our countenance will remain the same. We will not ever be changed. The key to good relationships, then, is not that one opinion overrides the other, but that in presenting our opinion, spoken in love, we offer room for growth. By so doing we are each giving and receiving input by which we may reflect and understand another’s point of view in order to meet in agreement and be changed through the peaceable exchange of opinions. It is in working with the other person that we learn to live peaceably with them.
And once again we have come full circle back to the first scripture in James 1:19, 20 where we are instructed to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. I guess there is some truth in the saying that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we could listen twice as much as we speak.
Father, I thank You for the wisdom that You give us through Your word. You are always working with our best interest in mind and I thank You for instructing us in how to live peaceably with others. Thank You, Father, for purchasing our redemption and for placing us in the body of Christ. May we all think of the other person more highly that we think of ourselves, yielding to them and learning from them. Thank You, Father, for those that You place around us to sharpen our countenance. May we treat them with understanding and love as we interact with them. Father, I pray that we will always walk in love towards the other person and give them the opportunity to speak what is on their heart without fear of rejection. Thank You, Father, for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.