Friday, March 20, 2015

Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak, Slow to Anger

Scripture Texts: Numbers 20; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4; James 1:19-20

It is good to see that even Moses lets his anger get the best of him. Numbers 20 is not the first time we see Moses getting angry, however this is a rare glimpse where the anger that brewed in Moses was expressed in sinful action and not a crying out to God. The problem was not the anger, rather what Moses did with the anger.

The incident at Meribah resulted in Moses and Aaron joining the ranks of those who would not enter in the the land God had promised the people. As a result of letting his anger get the best of him, Moses does not get to experience the fullness of the promise that was given by God in the land of Egypt.

Anger is not the issue, it is what happens when anger shows up. Perhaps this is why we are given the instructions in James to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. When we are quick to get angry we run the risk of our anger leading us into actions of sin. Maybe the time at Meribah would have been very different if Moses would followed the teaching we find in James.

Certainly the words from James are good words to live by. They become even more important in marriage. Having an ear ready to listen to our spouse whenever it is needed will change the way that we are available to our spouse, and help us to understand what is happening for our spouse. Being slow to speak helps us to not use words carelessly and in ways that cause harm. Words matter so much and we often use them with such little care. In our marriage we must be mindful of the words we speak.

Being slow to anger is not always easy, however it is essential to marriage. If every little thing our spouse does sets us off in anger, our marriage in not on the track to being fulfilling. Note, we are not prohibited from anger but we are told to listen first, talk less second and then move slowly to anger. It is easy to do this in the reverse order, get angry, talk much and listen little. Cultivating a deep marriage means keeping the order correct.

So, next time we are moving toward anger, stop and consider the words of James. First listen to what your spouse is saying, not only the words, the meaning also. Second, respond with your own words only after considering the words carefully. Last move toward anger slowly and with caution as much harm can happen in anger. We do not want to be like Moses and Aaron and forfeit our chance to live into God's promise because anger got the best of us.

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