“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” – James 1:19 (NIV)
A familiar scripture to most, this scripture is James is oft quoted when we feel someone talks too much. But a question arises: how many words is too many words?
Many times when someone is down and out spiritually, bitter or simply depressed, they say things that they otherwise would not say. They are focused too much of the negative in the world and not enough on the good (Philippians 4:8).
Sometimes they say, “Where is God?” or, “Why is God always against me?” or, “Why does God allow that ministry leader to hurt people?”
What are we to say to people that think or say these things?
“Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind?” – Job 6:26 (ESV)
Job says that we do not need to answer these words at all. When people say negative things when bad things are happening to them their words are “for the wind.” In other words, in time people usually regret their words and repent.
Therefore, sometimes, when people are in a dark place, we need to listen in much, much greater amounts than we speak. Sometimes speaking at all will only make things worse. What a high calling!
We can’t be so quick to defend ourselves, the church or even God when words for the wind are spoken. We must grow in our discernment of words that have roots in one’s soul and words that are for the wind. We need to speak up in regard to people who speak works with roots and listen in regard to people who speak words for the wind.
Let’s make a decision to listen more and talk less!