“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…”
slow to speak,
James uses the word “slow” twice in this verse. The Christian is to stretch out a period of time before he shoots off his mouth or explodes in anger.
Words spoken quickly are difficult to recall.
The counterpart to “swift to hear” is “slow to speak.” We cannot hear God speak if we are always speaking. If we care more about what we have to say than what God has to say, then we have a spiritual problem.
“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
But he who restrains his lips is wise” ( Proverbs 10:19).
“He who has knowledge spares his words,
And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.
Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace;
When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive” (Proverbs 17:27-28).
“Do you see a man hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20).
If we try to resolve a difference with someone by doing all the talking, we will likely not resolve the problem. We say in effect, “I don’t care what you think; I only care what I think about this problem.” It is difficult to respond to God’s Word if our attention is on our own thoughts.
If we wait before we speak, then when the time comes to speak, we will have the right basis for speaking. We will speak from God’s perspective.
Our generation is full of quick-to-speak people. We encourage people to speak about everything in our small groups. Usually, they do not know the subject. This results in a pooling of ignorance. No one has done any research. No one has carefully studied the Bible. No one has the gift of being a pastor/teacher. Result: a conglomerate of ignorance.
Words quickly spoken without thinking through the implications are very difficult, if not impossible, to recall. Hasty and unguarded words do great harm (James 3).