What to do quickly and what to do slowly (Gentleness 9)


Yesterday God reminded us of some things, and today it is something to take note of. Throughout this study of Col 3:12 God challenges us to have relationships that are inspiring, healthy and that draw others to him. The reality is though we are fallible and quite frankly less than perfect. So every now and then he challenges the disciples on things you might hope they had left behind.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
“James‬ ‭1:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ 

God wants us to take our time before we speak and get angry. The word he uses is to deliberate and reflect rather than being impulsive and shooting from the hip. He emphasises this with the word he uses for ‘speak’ which means ‘to chatter’ rather than to speak things of substance. The word for anger is also interesting as it is used of the ‘judgment passed down by magistrates’. It is so easy to pass judgment and be indignant but Gods view is slow down before you do as once judgement has been announced it is very hard to backdown. 

For sure God is angry at sin but He knows everything and is able to balance it with love, grace and the selfless long view. We are not! So whoever has not sinned should throw the first stone. Jesus asked people questions which gave them the chance to realise that their anger at people was not something that held up to scrutiny.  

Indeed the Pharisees had a form of righteousness and they were angry with those they called sinners and could even be so angry as to throw rocks at people until they died bleeding at their feet. They had an angry righteousness that lead to a horrible lack of love, which of course is not the righteousness He wants. 

“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
‭James‬ ‭1:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ 

So if God wants this what should our response be? It is interesting because the next part of the verse seemed a little disjointed to me. These are disciples he is talking to and he does not say, ‘therefore as you have already’. Instead he says they should get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent. I looked at other translations and the Greek in the hope he said it past tense but no, the sense seems to be that he is telling them to get on with doing this. 

I think the reason is two fold: 

1. We have a tendency to focus on the symptom and not the root cause or issue. If I talk over people and don’t listen it is easy to say I am just a bit impatient or excitable or struggling with being a bit rude. If I get angry it is easy to say I am tired, fed up or just irritable and hot tempered. However God, who sees our hearts, has a different view. He looks inside and sees the root of it and knows me speaking over you is just an expression of how important I think my words are (just ask my wife on that one). He also knows the root of my anger isn’t his honour but mine. Take some time to ponder if there any thing in your life that you could get away with on the surface but you know God might have a different view? 

2. The second thing is that a disciples life is a pilgrimage to heaven. Sins we have dealt with in one context appear in another and God wants us to keep going deeper. So it is important to not get discouraged when we see things to change but instead to welcome it as the next stage of our journey.

(This is part of a series on Colossians 3:12- Thanks for reading and if it was helpful please don’t forget to like it, comment or follow. Thank you) 

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