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::Devotional:: ‘Jumping the Gun’

January 26, 2010

In race events, the runners line up at the starting line with great anticipation of one thing – the signal gun firing to start the race.  Some runners anticipate exactly when they think the gun is going to be fired and actually begin to start running even before the gun goes off.  If it is timed just right they may have a split second advantage on the other runners, but if it is timed wrong they have “jumped the gun.”

While we may not all be runners, jumping the gun is something we probably find ourselves doing in life more than we’d like to admit. I have found that it usually ends up putting me in an irritated or angry state of mind unfortunately.  Perhaps more important than how I end up is how I start.

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  James 1:19-21

I’ve found myself irritated more frequently lately than usual and it concerned me.  Am I getting cranky in my old age? Ha!  In my prayer time this morning I admitted to the Lord my sin and asked for insight as to why this was happening.  Low and behold he reminded me of this scripture and I believe it has the insight I was looking for.

Be slow to speak and quick to listen

The passage says that we should be slow to speak.  That means when we should not be so arrogant as to think that we have the right answer, right opinion, or right advice that we proclaim it before we are ever even asked for input.  I often find myself trying to fix someone’s problem in the midst of hearing them talk about it.  How prideful and wrong of me to think that I’ve got all the right answers.

The passage says that we should be quick to listen.  That means we need to realize our humble understanding of many things and listen first rather than acting or answering out of our pride.

Be slow to anger

I believe that when we are quick to speak and slow to listen, in other words contrary to the instructions of the passage, we find ourselves increasingly irritated and angry.  Why?  The answer is pride.  When I am quick to speak and place my opinion on the table, I am offended when someone disagrees.  Like somehow getting my opinion or answer our there first makes it correct, which is not true.  My pride is hurt and that manifests itself in irritation and anger.  Quickly too, I might add.  Being quick to speak and slow to listen leads to being quick to anger.

For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires

Here’s where the rubber meets the road for me.  The result of being quick to speak, slow to listen, and quick to anger is an unrighteous life.  It is not what God desires and therefore for any Christian striving to become more Christ-like it becomes a roadblock.  God does not approve.  One of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5 is self-control.  I believe that is there because the Lord knows that without his help, the workings of the Holy Spirit, we have very little self-control.  Being slow to speak and quick to listen, that is self-control.  It is the humble road rather than the prideful road anger rarely travels it.  God approves of that.

Maybe you haven’t had to cross this bridge in your walk with Christ yet, but you will.  When you get there, be slow to speak and quick to listen to see how God instructs you to move forward.  For me, the easy part is done.  I’ve searched the word of God and found the insight I was looking for.  The hard part now is being purposeful in applying it to my life.  Today I need to be intentionally slow to speak and quick to listen.  I’ll handle tomorrow when it gets here.

-Stay Rooted Col. 2:7-

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