let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
I have come to keep a journal. Reflections on the day and so on. This morning in my time set aside to blog, thoughts of reflection on a topic that has gone unanswered too long and an idea of resolution consumed me to journal instead. So this week I will share this entry. Names removed, adding in verses for and some of my thoughts that did not make their way to the entry for context, etc:
In the past I have not been sure as to the volume of my speech. In business settings, in the past I have felt like I, in general, have ideas I think will help. So I have always erred the side of sharing them. That said, I have been mindful of God’s word that encourages us not to speak hastefully and in great volume. It has been a point of uncertainty for me. The balance of volume my speech. Should I talk or should I remain silent? Is this a point of pride? That everyone must hear my idea because my idea is so good? Yesterday I had breakfast with one of my mentors. My struggle on the matter came up as we talked about James 1:18-20:
Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
I have come to believe this to mean that if we are going to be God’s firstfruits amongst His creatures, if we are going to serve and love our fellow; the formula to make that possible is to be swift to listen, slow to speak, slow to wrath. We need to listen to be positioned to love others well. It does not say “do not speak” it says to “be slow to speak.” This I think helps us focus on listening. The opposite thinking about what we are going to say and waiting for the first opportunity to speak, I do not think is slow to speak but rather quick for we have already spoke to ourselves and are just waiting to privy others our thoughts. The question I asked him was how does this work with the gift of speaking and teaching and sharing understanding. He looked at me and smiled. He gave no answer. No word left his tongue. Interesting. Perhaps now I think he may have been teaching me a lesson after all. After breakfast he and I went to visit an old friend of my fathers that was in town from the city on a case, he is a God fearing lawyer, his father was too. I asked him this same question after talking about James 1:19. He said that it was a tough question that he had no answer. He did however afford me a piece of advice his father gave him. ‘It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.’ That is, as I took it, when in doubt remain silent. Still my dilemma remains for my confidence soars in conversation that a particular idea should be shared for the service of those there. Not to my glory of course, that I rescue them with my idea or some nonsense, but instead, should what is shared help; glory be to our God who makes all things known, the Creator of all ideas. I was mowing the lawn last afternoon, preparing our home for a dinner with the families of two business partners where we planned to discuss how to help another in a new venture. As I was mowing the lawn reflecting on the day, I came to this bit of advice that my fathers friend passed to me from his father. ‘When in doubt remain in silence.’ Then a thought flashed in to my mind. 1 Peter 4:10-11:
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
In my estimation, if you are speaking for the LORD in service of your fellow, then speak as it is your duty. This, I think, is when the doubt is removed; that point of balance I had been searching for. When to talk. My father’s friend said something else that I think answers the ‘if’ of the qualifying question above. That is; discerning if you are speaking for the LORD in service of your fellow. I am doing my best to recall and paraphrase his comments, ‘I thrive in hardship.’ He said, ‘It is good for me. To be humbled and know I rely on God. I have no humble bone in my body. God brings me to my knees.’ This sort of revelation has been reoccurring to me as of late years. My complete reliance on God. On God’s Spirit to show me what to do. I think now, God willing, my dilemma in speech will draw me closer to God. Practicing the presence of God. God give me discernment and faith with wisdom, understanding, knowledge. I need Your help God. I depend on You moment by moment. Draw me near You God and draw near me. Show me what to do.
A quick programming note: I want to clarify something that was clear in my mind when writing in my journal but could be taken for granted here. And when I say clear in my mind I do not mean that I have figured this out, only that I have come to believe these things important. These things are things that if, should you believe you are to speak, I do not think should give way to manners and other proverbs addressing our speech. Things like talking in definitives or otherwise squaring off that you are in the right, interrupting and other forms inserting yourself when another is speaking, or dominating a conversation as to not let another contribute.
-A journal entry on speech
As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.