By: Matt Boness
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. – James 1:19-20
Recently, I have heard many calls from people to listen and learn. Listen and learn about racism, racial injustice and other people’s experiences. I have also heard a lot of calls from people to speak up. Speak up about racism, racial injustice and people’s experiences.
How do we navigate the urgency of calls that seemingly have us to do an opposite reaction of each other? Especially when we are feeling defensive toward someone whose view is different than ours?
“I NEED to speak up, they are clearly wrong!”
As the beloved believers of a patient God, we can and should always turn toward what the word of God says. In the book of James, a popular verse says to be quick to hear and slow to speak. To listen first, meditate on the words ingested and slowly offer our response. And yet, when we are behind our computer keyboards and someone has tickled the fight or flight nerve, we seem to always lean toward fight despite what our normal proclivities would have us do. We all become keyboard warriors in defense of our ego.
As the verse in James continues, in that moment, we are not bringing the righteousness of God along for the ride, but we are being self-righteous in our defensive position.
Let me encourage your spirit that it is ok to be silent, to not have an answer to every question, facebook post or off-handed suggestion. It is ok to apologize for being wrong in the past. As we all take a journey toward new insight and knowledge, it is our goal to listen and learn from new voices who may have experience and knowledge that we don’t. It’s ok to not know everything. Believe it or not, none of us do.
As you listen to the voices around you, may you seek out truth and not just the loudest trumpet. Above all, as the Beloved, may you turn to the Bible for answers instead of other sources. Wisdom is found in listening. Wisdom is found in learning.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. – 2 Timothy 4:3-5