“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because our anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19 TNIV).
Friend To Friend
Anger – we all know what it looks and sounds like. The kids track mud through the house again, a husband forgets an anniversary, a car pulls out in front of us and putters down the road at twenty miles per hour, the oven decides to stop working one hour before dinner guests are scheduled to arrive. How do we react? Anger!
The Greek word for anger is orge and means “any natural impulse, or desire, or disposition,” and came to be known as anger – the strongest of all passions. While the culture says that anger is healthy, the Bible tells us to “rid ourselves of it” (Colossians 3:8).
I was with a friend who was being treated very unfairly. Someone had approached her about co-authoring a book. Plans were made, contracts were discussed, and content was already forming in her mind. But then she received a phone call from the spouse of the co-author. “I do not want my husband to co-author this book with you. He does not need a female to dumb-down his work.”
Several people were in earshot of this conversation. I was furious that my friend was being treated in such a manner! However, rather than react in anger or defend herself, my friend graciously and with the love of Christ spoke words of kindness. Rather than becoming angry, she exuded the fragrance of Christ, and it permeated the entire office.
That is the choice we have. When we choose not to react in anger, but extend grace, the aroma of Christ is released. “My dear brothers and sisters,” Paul writes, “take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because our anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19 TNIV). Thomas Jefferson once said, “If angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, one hundred.”
Where does anger come from anyway? Well, it is a reaction to irritating people and circumstances, you might say. But I believe the root cause of anger is self-centeredness. We live in a world that tells us, “It’s all about me!” And when something doesn’t suit the center of my universe – me – then anger erupts. That’s difficult to admit, isn’t it? Here’s a little test: Each time you become angry over the next few days, ask yourself this question, “Am I angry because I didn’t get what I wanted when I wanted it?”
Wow! That makes the little kids throwing a temper tantrum in the toy store have a striking resemblance to the woman we see in the mirror each day!
Rather than using our words in anger, we can use our words to be the fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15). Have you ever walked out of a convenience store smelling like cigarette smoke for the rest of the day? Have you ever hugged someone and ended up wearing her perfume? We will leave a fragrance, so to speak, by the words we speak.
Dear Heavenly Father, help me be quick to hear and slow to speak. You gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason. Another thing, Lord, help me to listen to You today. I pray that I will sense Your gentle nudges and tender tugs. I love You so much!
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
How are your listening skills?
Here are some ideas from my book, Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids on ways to improve our listening skills.
Don’t complete someone’s sentences for them.
Don’t glance at your watch when someone is talking to you.
Don’t cross your arms as if to say you are close-minded.
Do make eye contact.
Do lean forward if you are seated.
Do ask good follow-up questions.
Do put down the newspaper or turn off the television to give focused attention.