Quick and Slow

Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas

Introduction:

A young man once approached the philosopher Socrates and asked, “Can you please teach me the gift of oratory?” He then spoke a continuous stream of words to show his ability. Socrates finally placed his hand over his mouth and said, “Young man, I will have to charge you a double fee.” He asked why. Socrates replied, “I will have to teach you two arts – First, how to hold your tongue, and then, how to use it.”

What type of person are you? Are you perceived to be a calm and quiet person or otherwise?

Today I want to speak to you on the fruit of being born again.

James 1:18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. When a person accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as saviour, there is a transformation that takes place. Jesus Christ gives that person a new birth. We have been born again, and one of the main changes that come from the new birth is in the way we live our life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. So, if you’ve had a new birth, it is going to result in a new behaviour.

Illustration: Some men were talking about different translations of the Bible. Some talked about the NIV, some KJV, and some others The Amplified Version. One man said, “I like my mother’s translation the best.” They said, “Oh, we didn’t know that your mother was a scholar.” How did she translate the Bible?” He said, “My mother translated the Bible into daily living.” That’s the translation we all need – translating what we know into practice.

James speaks about three pertinent areas of our behaviour that change by the new birth. James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

I. QUICK TO LISTEN.

Now, when I say be quick to listen, the Bible doesn’t teach that we’re to hear everything that is spoken. Don’t worry tying to hear and know everything others say.

Luke 8:18 Consider carefully how you listen.
Mark 4:24 Consider carefully what you hear.
Ecclesiastes 7:21 Do not pay attention to every word people say.

Don’t listen to everything that comes along. Don’t lend your ears as a bin of gossip or let people use your ears for unloading their garbage. Jesus said, be careful little ears what you hear.

So, what is James talking about when he is saying be quick to hear? When you are speaking to others be quick to hear them. Give them time to speak.

  • a. Be quick to hear others more than yourself.
  • b. Be quick to hear what God is speaking to you.

Are you ready to listen to God this morning? The problem with so many of us is that God is always speaking but we don’t listen.

How does God speak?

a. God speaks through the Bible. 

God will speak to you if you will open this book, read, and pray over it. This Bible is God’s word. This book is the Word of God. Do you know it? Do you hear it? Do you read it? Many people read the Bible and get nothing from it because they’re not listening to what is God saying.

Questions to ask when you read the Bible.

  • a. Is there a lesson to learn?
  • b. Is there a blessing to enjoy?
  • c. Is there a command to obey?
  • d. Is there a sin to avoid?
  • e. Is there a new truth to carry with me?

As you read a passage of Scripture keep asking yourself those questions over and over again so that the Word of God will get off of the page and into your heart. Read the Bible.

b. God speaks from the pulpit. 

Romans 10:18 How can they hear without someone preaching to them. When someone speaks the word of God, God speaks to us. So take the sermons as God’s word.

I can say with the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, for the Lord hath anointed me to preach.” And I’m not being egotistical here. This is how God works, and God holds me responsible for what I preach. The Bible tells us to be very careful in the way we preach. 1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.

I have a greater responsibility. It is incumbent upon me that I prayerfully prepare to come and stand in this sacred place. You are trusting that I have done some preparation in prayer, study of the Bible, and give you the pure word of God’s not man’s wisdom. But it is also just as required of you that when you come to church that you be prepared to listen.

First of all you need to come to church. You ought to take back some things away with you every time you come to church. You will learn something this morning if you’ll take some notes and use your Bible.

c. God speaks through the Holy Spirit. 

Revelation 3:13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Listen, it is easier to hear God speaking through the Bible and the pulpit. It takes real quietness in our soul to hear God speaking with his Spirit to our spirit.

Isaiah 30:15 In quietness and trust is your strength.
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God.

Reasons for God not speaking

a. Very busy. We are very busy, many of us do not have the time to sit and pray. The devil aims his heaviest artillery against your prayer time. How many of you have a quiet time? A time where you get alone and say, “Listen Lord, I am going to pray but I am listening.’

God spoke to Samuel 4 times. Three times Samuel thought Eli was speaking and went to him. See what happened the fourth time: 1 Samuel 3:10 The Lord came and stood there calling as the other times, “Samuel, Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening. God is waiting for you. If are quite and allow God to speak he will speak to you.

The world has made us so busy isn’t? We have so many distractions: Radio, TV, mobile phone, laptop etc. We don’t even have time for our children and spouse, then how can we give time to God? We are busy always. If nothing is there then we are on mp3 player, listening to gospel music. I’m afraid if David had an mp3 player we might not have had the twenty-third Psalm. God wants to speak to you. Can God get your time and attention?

b. Selfish prayers. Another reason God doesn’t speak to some of us is that when we come to that time when we’re to have fellowship with God, we do all of the talking. It’s all about us, our requests and complaints. We do not have time to listen to God. Do you like to hold a conversation with someone who does all of the talking? We never want to talk to them.

A part of our new birth is that we are to be quick to hear others, mainly God.

II. SLOW TO SPEAK.

Proverbs 10:19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
Proverbs 17:27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.

The truth is that most of us like to talk too much. Many things are opened by mistake but none so frequently as the mouth. James says, talk less. Say to yourself – talk less.

Ecclesiastes 5:3 Many words mark the speech of a fool. It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubts. Man has two ears and one mouth. The ears are made always to be open. The mouth is made where it can be closed and the tongue is enclosed in a den behind ivory bars, the teeth. We’re supposed to be listening twice as much as we’re to be speaking. But most of us have gone juast the other route.

Jesus warned against speaking idle words. Matthew 12:36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty/idle word they have spoken.

This does not mean that we cannot have humour or a light and pleasant conversation. “Idle” means non-productive, hurtful, destructive words. The Pharisee’s accused Jesus Christ of casting out devils by the prince of devils, and it was then that Jesus gave this warning.

How much harm is done by foolish talking? Homes are broken, hearts are crushed, families are divided, churches are split, and souls are lost all because people do not set a guard to their mouth. Watch the words of our mouth. Colossians 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Talk less, but when you talk be gracious and seasoned with salt. You see, you can’t talk and listen at the same time.

A wise ole owl lived in an oak. 
The more he saw the less he spoke. 
The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why aren’t we all like the wise old bird?

Most of us would be amazed if we knew just how much we talk.

And if all that we say in a single day, 
with never a word left out
Were printed each night in clear black and white, 
would make strange reading no doubt, 
And then just suppose, err one’s eyes he could close, 
he must read the record through, 
Then wouldn’t one sigh and wouldn’t one try
a great deal less talking to do? 
And I really think that many a kink
would be smoothed in life’s tangled thread, 
If one half that we say in one single day
were forever left unsaid.

If somebody follows us and records everything we say in an entire day, print it out and make us read it back at the end of the day we will be amazed by all what we speak. We speak a lot.

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. The mark of a believer is a person who is swift to hear, slow to speak, and thirdly slow to anger.

III. SLOW TO ANGER.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
Proverbs 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

Slow to anger is the sum total of the first two points. When a man starts listening more and talking less he will automatically think more. When a man’s thought is controlled, his tongue is controlled, and then his temper is controlled. Thoughts- tongue- temper.

Be slow to angry means we are to be lovely people to be around with, be slow to take offense at others. Do not hurt the person in the next word. Never lose your temper. As a matter of fact, you don’t lose your temper; you find your temper – the right balance.

But, you see, the Bible doesn’t say never be angry. Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

Anger is a natural emotion, but it is wrong when your anger becomes sin and it easily can. Jesus got angry and Jesus was without sin. Mark 3:4-5 4Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. 5He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts.

What made Jesus Christ angry was hard hearts of the Pharisees, injustice. They said not heal to the man because of the Sabbath. Some things in life will make us angry, but, oh, how you need to be careful. The Bible says, be angry and sin not. Be slow to wrath because it is so easy for you to let the line disappear between righteous anger and personal irritation. How real, most of our anger is personal irritation.

a. Be angry for the right reason. Most of us get angry when our toes are stepped on, when our rights are taken away, when someone offends us, or someone gets our parking place. You will never find one angry word spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ any time when he was personally mistreated. Not an angry word when they nailed him to the cross. But rather, he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Most of our anger is when somebody has wronged us. Jesus got angry when somebody else was being hurt. Be angry for the right reason.

b. Be angry at the right thing. Most of us get angry at the wrong doer. We get angry at people. Jesus did not. He got angry with traditions and sins, but not with individuals. He loved the individual. You see, you can be angry with the wrong ‘done,’ but not with the wrong ‘doer.’ So while you are angry with what they have done, do not be angry with the person.

c. Display your anger in the right way. When you lose your temper you’re not a part of the solution, you add on to the problem. Jesus’ anger made him a part of the solution, not a greater part of the problem. James 1:19-20 19My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

When you are angry for the right reason, right thing, and the right way, then the righteousness of God is produced. But when you are angry for the wrong reason, the wrong thing, and the wrong way, it leads to sin.

Some people are actually proud of their temper think that their anger, violent tempers is a sign of strength. They say, well, we’ve got an angry one in our family. Others say, “You know, I’ve got my dad’s temper.” Yea, you’re of your father, the devil.

You say, well, it just lasts a little while. You see in that little time, anger gives you so much of strength which you otherwise do not have. Where is this strength from? That moment you get angry, you give way for the devil and for the next 5 minutes it is not you. Some men are bullies in their own house. They go throwing things around, slapping the kids. It’s not a sign of strength. It’s a sign of babyhood. You’re like a little baby, throwing a temper tantrum.

A temper tantrum is an emotional outbreak, usually associated with children ranging from whining, crying, screaming, kicking, hitting etc.

When you get angry you lose control and you open the door to all kinds of sins that you would not normally commit. You say and do things that you ought not to say and do.

Proverbs 29:22 An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. In anger things will happen, things will be said that you would give the world if you could take back. But, then you lose your mind, you lose your control, lose credibility, and testimony.

A careless word may kindle strife. 
A cruel word may wreck a life. 
A bitter word may hate instill. 
A brutal word may smite and kill. 
A gracious word may smooth away. 
A joyous word may light the day. 
A timely word may lessen stress. 
A loving word may heal and bless.

Conclusion:

 Be quick and slow: Quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. And I’m not just giving you a lecture on manners this morning. These things that James is talking about are the fruit of the spirit, change in behaviour of being born again. Let’s introspect our lives. God is able to change our nature and fill us with his. Let’s seek the Holy Spirit to bring the change of new birth in us.


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