Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak, and Slow to Become Angry
We live in a world where you have the ability to share every thought you have at any moment in time you wish. With the advent of the internet and social media, there is a global platform available to express our thoughts and feelings with unlimited access and little to no accountability.
In our modern cultural context, it is often expected and even demanded that folks will respond to every disagreement, injustice, or wrong-headed opinions with their “hot take” on the subject. In some cases, people respond without having all of the facts or limited knowledge of a subject. The problem that we run into is that we don’t always give ourselves the time to be well informed, thoughtful, kind, or nuanced in our responses. We have cultivated a culture of hot takes that don’t take into account that we might be wrong, that others might have a valid point of view, or that a problem could be addressed from multiple perspectives and platforms.
Don’t get me wrong. We should respond to injustice. Christians should speak the truth in the face of lies and dishonesty. People of faith should stand up when they see others being silenced. There are certainly times that there is only one correct, true, and simple way to see an issue. However, I would argue that there are also times that we should pause and consider that there may be more going on than what is immediately visible. Discernment is key to figuring out the appropriate response.
Sometimes there are things going on behind the scenes that escape our attention. Other times, we are so certain that we are correct that we fail to see that others are acting in good faith and doing the best that they can to contribute in a positive way. We think the worst about those that we disagree with and assume that they are the ones operating in bad faith. We need to learn to be better discerners of truth so that we can respond appropriately when and if a response is demanded.
The Bible has some ancient but relevant things to say in regards to our current hot take cultural climate and how to be better discerning.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5
It is important to remember that every thought we have needs to be in obedience to Christ. Take some time to pray through whether your hot take about a matter is actually true or in accordance with the mind of Christ. This is a pretty important part of how we should respond when we see injustice or an assault on what is true and holy. Injustice demands a response. Discernment helps us understand when to respond and how to respond. Prayer helps key us into the places where our mind needs to be more in line with Jesus.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2
We shouldn’t respond in words or actions in the same way the world does. The world has a pattern of response that isn’t always in line with how God would have us respond. We need to make sure how we respond to things is appropriate. Conforming to the world’s pattern of response will only lead to heartbreak and alienation. We also need to remember that, according to Paul, transformation happens when we renew our minds. The renewal of our minds most frequently happens through a process over time. What we think about a topic today might be different tomorrow. As we consider whether or not our thoughts are in line with Jesus’ thoughts, we need to know that our opinions about something may change. Perhaps they should change. Prayer and discernment are again our friends. Embrace them to help you see the areas where you have conformed to a worldly way of thinking and where your mind may need to be renewed.
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 1:19-20
It is difficult to be quick to listen. When we do seek to listen, it is oftentimes more about formulating a response to win an argument than it is to be present and listen to understand someone’s point of view. Anger is all the rage right now and James reminds us that we need to temper that anger with our ability to listen well, to be truly present, and to be slow to give our hot take.
It is vitally important to curate your thoughts. Your prayer life can be a great tool to help you to be able to do this. The practice of the silent disciplines of prayer, solitude, silence, meditation, and contemplation can be a great counterbalance to the noise and anger that seems to be ever-present and in your face. Practicing the silent disciplines helps us to take our thoughts captive, teaches us to listen well, curbs our anger, and can help us reorder our thought life to be in line with the mind of Christ.