Be Slow (James 1-3)

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)

I’m a hurried sort of person.  There’s always one more thing to do on my list and one more place to go… typically a place to which I am running about 5-10 minutes late.  Living a slow life seems to be contrary to my personality, but that doesn’t mean I should embrace that as the way to live.  Growing up we had an old record (yes, as in those vinyl things that spin around and makes sounds when a needle is set on them) with a song that had the words, “be patient, be patient, don’t be in such a hurry.”  I think there was a turtle singing the song, which fit nicely with the point of it.

The truth is, we need to slow down when it comes to dealing with other people and making assumptions about their actions.  I would venture to say that 9 times out of 10, when I get angry at people it’s because I didn’t really understand the entirety of the situation.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a time to be angry, and that was modeled for us by Jesus and his anger at the people selling goods in the Temple courts.  However, Stephen Covey has a great axiom from his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, that says, seek first to understand and then to be understood.  I think he stole that from James!

If you find yourself getting angry, take a step back to make sure you understand the whole situation; it could be that, from your limited perspective, you’re not seeing all sides.  You may find out that the source of your anger isn’t what you think it is in the start.  In slowing down, you will find that you can preserve the relationship even in the midst of your anger.

Father, I know it’s not wrong to be angry, but I don’t want to allow my anger to lead me to sin.  Help me to get angry over the things that anger You versus getting angry when I don’t get my own way.  Help me to have as much grace with other people as You have given to me.  Keep me from sinning in my anger.