My Dad set a great example for us when we were growing up of a man who angers slowly. My Mom, on the other hand, was quicker to anger. They balanced each other very well as parents. They continue to balance each other in their 48 year marriage.
Why is it important to be one who is slow to anger? You already know this, those who are quick to anger aren’t a lot of fun to be around. They don’t listen to what other people have to say. Often, they are too busy defending their position that they can’t hear themselves or anyone else for that matter. The viewpoints of others are discounted because they are different or don’t line up with expectations. People who are quickly angered seem to have many preconceived ideas and will hold on to those notions with both hands in spite of evidence to the contrary.
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;” James 1:19 NKJV. http://bible.com/114/jas.1.19.nkjv
James gives us some awesome direction in the quoted verse. It is important that when looking at scripture to maintain the context of the writer. Immediately, I have a question. The verse starts “so then.” what does that mean? So then….what? To find the answer to this question, I must look back at James.
“for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:20 NKJV http://bible.com/114/jas.1.20.nkjv
Looking at the next verse, James teaches that when I am angry I cannot be obedient to God. How do I get obedient to God out if that verse? I took a look at Strong’s Concordance and found that produce means: to work fully, i.e. accomplish; by implication, to finish, fashion:—cause, to (deed), perform, work (out).
But that’s not quite enough to get all the way to obedience. I had to go back and see to what righteousness referred. Strong’s concordance explains: integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting. To simplify a bit, obedience.
When I am quick to anger, I prevent God from communicating with me. I cannot pray. I cannot read and understand His word, I cannot seek wise counsel. I cannot see the forest for the trees.
I am always fascinated by these verses. James identifies two things we are to do slowly and one quickly. It seems to me that when I listen quickly, I can understand someone better and respond with words that aren’t focused solely on my needs.
We visited Caye Caulker in Belize. The island’s motto is “Go Slow.” By keeping the images of many signs we saw as we explored the small island in the forefront of my mind, sometimes I remember to slow down. No one rushes on Caulker. If it takes you 10 minutes to walk from one end of the island to the other, you’ve gone way too fast! It’s a place for strolling!
Listening quickly allows me to take my focus off myself and places it on the speaker. Speaking slowly means I’m not sitting there formulating my response before the person ever finishes speaking. Instead I first complete the act of listening. Then, I formulate my response and possibly ask for clarification before I respond to ensure I’m responding appropriately.
When I do both of these things, I usually reach the point of anger much more slowly. Often, not getting angry at all! Pretty cool how being respectful of others by listening, clarifying my thoughts and taking care with the words I speak can prevent angry situations.
Featured image: gobelize.com