“…let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.”—James 1:19-20
For the first 300 years of its existence, the church met almost exclusively in private homes as opposed to the large buildings we meet in today. Since these informal gatherings invited the members to preach the word, recite the psalms, and sing spiritual songs, it created a situation where abuse was possible. Untimely interruptions and hasty conclusions could disrupt the order of worship.
James pointed out that those who possess such disruptive tendencies should be “slow to speak.” He did not issue a “gag order” over these gatherings, but a common-sense principle to “think before you speak.”
Zeno, the ancient philosopher said, “We have two ears and one mouth, therefore we should listen twice as much as we speak.”
And listen to how the teachers of Israel worded this principle: “Men have two ears but one tongue, that they should hear more than they speak. The ears are always open, ever ready to receive instruction; but the tongue is surrounded with a double row of teeth to hedge it in, and keep it within proper bounds.”
The wisdom in Proverbs 10:19 cautions us: “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”
If we are not slow to speak, we will be quick to jump to the wrong conclusion, quick to judge a matter poorly, quick to offer bad advice and quick to say something we will regret later. Be slow to speak by holding your opinion or verdict until you receive a fuller understanding of the situation and the person. Hold your tongue until the bigger picture brings clarity as to how you should proceed with wisdom and caution.