We are living in a time when it seems we try to do everything as fast as possible. Last night, we were driving home from a meeting in a neighboring state. We were on a major highway here in the northeast, and we were traveling five-miles-per-hour over the speed limit. I looked in my sideview mirror and told my wife to hold on. Someone in the passing lane next to us blew past us going at least twenty-miles-an-hour over the speed limit. Our car shook as they passed us.
We become frustrated when we sit in line too long at the drive-through window of a fast food restaurant. We stand watching the seconds pass on the microwave oven, waiting with impatience for the bell to ring. We look at our watches if the preacher goes past noon. It seems we are in a constant state of impatience. Today I was reminded when reading my Bible, that we need to be slow at times.
James wrote, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). What great advice from God for me! He must have looked down the years of history to the time that I would be living in this world and included this verse just for me! Please consider the different parts of this verse. I want to study it deeper to be able to learn the lesson of when it is good to be fast, and when it is good to be slow.
James begins with us being fast to hear. The challenge here is to listen quickly. I believe it is the idea of listening intently. I know I need help in this area. Do you find yourself wishing the person talking to you would be quiet, so you can tell them what you think? That is the opposite of this. This is the idea of looking someone in the eye and trying to hear even what they are saying “between the lines.” I needed this challenge for myself.
James continues with us being slow to speak. Obviously, God would like us to be careful to think about what we say before the words come out of our mouth (enough said). Finally, James finishes with the fact that we should be slow to wrath. We should not easily “blow our top.” It should take some time for us to become angry. God does not say it is always wrong to have wrath. We need to hate sin, and we need to find injustice intolerable, but it should take some time to get to that place in our heart.
In a world that encourages us to hurry through everything, I have noticed that God told me to be slow more than to be fast! I need the help of God to do these things we have talked about. Slow down and follow God’s leading!