“Stop shouting at each other RIGHT this MINUTE!”
The words forced their way across my lips, piercing the air over our dining room table before I even realized I was shouting. Three sets of wide eyes stared at me, and one toddler mouth hung open in surprise.
I expelled the mouthful of air I didn’t realize I’d been holding in one great whoosh.
Perfect, I thought. I did it, AGAIN. Shouting at your children to stop them from shouting at each other…way to effectively parent. Lord, HELP. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.
Have you been there, Love?
You try to juggle all the balls, and somehow you are almost completely unaware of how stressed you feel until the very moment your angry outburst bubbles up and over to scald the nearest person. Adding insult to injury? The person (or in my case, little persons) you scald, has absolutely nothing to do with whatever is your breaking point.
Oh, how the instant regret cuts deep.
And often, Regret is accompanied by her hovering little sister, Shame.
There’s an old saying, “There’s nothing new under the sun”, which is entirely true for the history of humans who struggle to refrain from angry outbursts. We can trace all the way back to the first set of brothers, Cain and Abel, and find the bitter, dangerous fruit that grows from unchecked anger.
In the New Testament, James provides sound advice for believers, gently admonishing us to both hear the Word (Scripture) and obey it. Isn’t it fascinating that as he expounds on this topic, his first instruction is:
“This you know, my brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
James 1:19b-20 NASB
Everyone who has ever lashed out in the heat of the moment knows that when anger begins rising, quelling it is incredibly difficult. Here’s where James’ divinely dictated instruction truly shines. We are challenged to do two things before we even reach his instruction to be slow to anger.
First, we are to be quick to hear.
James doesn’t mean merely listening to spoken words. He means listening with understanding of another’s heart behind their words, but James is also calling us to keep an ear tuned to Holy Spirit’s voice. What is God speaking to us in that very moment when what is happening in the natural, as well as what is happening in the spiritual, verges on angry explosions.
When we begin living and responding from a position of listening first to Holy Spirit’s truth, we will naturally follow the second instruction from James and find ourselves slow to speak. As we slow, we process what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, as well as listen attentively to what Holy Spirit is showing us. As we test everything we think against Scripture, this slowing down practice will result in new pathways as our thought patterns shift to become more like the Lord’s.
As we continue through James’ instructions, a constant theme begins emerging:
we are called to more than knowledge; we are called to obedience.
For the people in the back, I’ll say it again.
Sister, we are called to more than knowledge.
Every one of us is called to obey.
We are called to hear what the Bible says, and then called to action.
We are called to humbly receive the Word, and then allow transformation to happen.
We are called to gaze at the perfect law of freedom, and then called to persevere in it.
We are called to stay in living relationship with the Lord, and remain unstained by sin.
We are called to recognize position, and then called to honor all.
So, how do we go about doing these actions which are counter-culture, stretching, and one hundred percent opposite of what we might naturally strive to attain. Further, we are talking about a shift in heart posture here.
This is not something we are capable of manufacturing on our own.
Proverbs 2 gives us rock-solid wise counsel that goes hand in hand with James’ words. When we accept and study Scripture, meditate on the Lord’s instructions and allow them to sink deep into our souls, the Lord responds with favor.
When we ask the Lord to speak; He will reveal Himself through the Bible.
Then, we listen.
We press in and place value on the wisdom He freely gives.
As we turn our hearts toward Him, Scripture says He draws near to us, protecting us and blessing us with wisdom, knowledge, discretion, and understanding.
He will guard us from paths leading to destruction and danger by setting our feet on Wisdom’s Way.
You might be thinking, “This all sounds great in theory…but if I were honest, the truth is I simply do not desire to study Scripture. I try. I read it. I want to know what it’s like to long to soak in it, to hear directly from Him. But He’s just not speaking to me.”
Sweet sister-friend. I’ve felt the same.
Can I encourage you to do something different today?
Something that might feel outside your comfort zone?
First, carve out a few moments and find a quiet space.
Talk to the Lord. Have a real conversation with Him.
Tell Him where you are and ask Him to help you, then trust He is faithful and will respond to His beloved daughter!
Lord, thank You for Your Word that brings life and light. Thank you for giving us a way we can hear directly from You. Forgive me for the times when I have not valued Your instruction. Father, I want to hunger for your Word; I want to be the kind of daughter who is transformed when I hear You speak. Show me any areas of my heart and life that aren’t in alignment with Your heart. I yield every part of my life, time, and schedule to You.
Teach me to be more like You.
In Jesus’s Name, amen.
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