Before You Get Mad

Thank you Arlene Pellicane for today’s message:

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

It was raining like crazy when I went to pick up my son from school. I had told him earlier to look for my car so I wouldn’t have to get out in the rain. I slipped into my ugliest, oldest flip flops. I was just planning to stay in the nice, dry car.

There was my son in plain sight. He walked towards me and then walked right…past…my…car! He made a U-turn but still missed me. I was so upset and exasperated. I got out of my car, embarrassed to be wearing my for-home-use-only flip flops, and yelled “ETHAN!!!” at the top of my lungs.

He finally saw me. I darted back to the car, totally unprepared for the downpour. In those few seconds, I talked to myself. I was very aware of how mad I was! “Calm down, don’t be mad. It’s not really a big deal.”

The first thing I said to Ethan was, “You made me get out in my flipper floppers!” which made us both laugh because I looked so ridiculous. I asked as calmly as possible, “Why didn’t you see my car?”

“I was expecting you to come in the van, but you came in the other car.”

Oh. That made sense. My anger which had risen so quickly like a thundercloud dissipated.

James wrote to us about the powerful emotion of anger, “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)

Notice one quick and two slows.

Quick to listen. Slow to speak and slow to become angry.

We can get that turned around. We can be slow to listen and quick to speak and quick to become angry. Before you get mad at your child, husband, friend, mom, or co-worker, take a deep breath. Think about one quick and two slows. Ask God to calm you down and to help you to listen.

“Slow to be angry” in the original Greek means “slow to boil.” We live in a microwave generation where many things move fast, almost instantly from blazing Internet connections to fast food. When it comes to getting angry, we are instructed to be more like a slow-cooking crock pot than a microwave.

This can be very difficult! As James writes, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8, NIV). Thankfully we have the Holy Spirit residing within us as our Teacher and Guide.

Please understand there is a place for right anger. You see Jesus’ righteous anger toward the injustice and corruption happening in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). God’s anger burns against the wicked. Not all anger is bad. But sometimes the anger that comes out in our cutting tone, yelling, or terse words isn’t rooted in righteousness. It’s rooted in selfishness.

Let’s be slow to boil, slow to speak, slow to get angry. Let’s instead be quick to listen. We may find out the other side of the story is a worthwhile tale

Have a blessed day!

Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Tongue

Thank you ARLENE PELLICANE for today’s message…

“No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8 (NIV)

When I was in elementary school, I didn’t like recess. In fact, I dreaded recess because of a certain little boy.

I would be playing peacefully with other girls and out of nowhere, the brown-eyed-boy with the big mouth would appear. “China girl! China girl!” he yelled, chasing me around.

I’d quickly retreat to the girls’ bathroom to escape the embarrassment. There weren’t many Chinese girls in my elementary school. I didn’t want to be different; I wanted to fit in.

Recess reminded me I didn’t fit in. I used to think dyeing my hair brown would solve all my problems. I never tried it, but I thought about it a lot.

Because of those two words spoken to me — “China girl! China girl!” — I became insecure about my God-given race. I didn’t eat Chinese food; I ate pizza and hamburgers. At a young age, I was experiencing the power of other’s words to influence my thoughts and behavior.

The words we speak hold great potential, both to harm and to heal. Our key verse reminds us of the enormous power yielded by the tiny muscle, the tongue. The Bible tells us the tongue is untamable, restlessly evil, and full of deadly poison. My big thigh muscle hasn’t injured too many, but my tiny tongue? That’s another story.

In James chapter 3, James contrasts sizes in his three analogies about the tongue: a horse’s bit turns its whole body; small rudders direct large ships; and a little flame can ignite a great forest fire.

The recurring theme? Don’t be deceived. Although very small, the tongue is powerful and should not be underestimated in its ability to do harm.

If I am singing God’s praises Sunday morning at church but spreading juicy gossip on Monday morning, something is wrong with my heart, and it shows through the words that pass by my tongue. I don’t become saved by the words I speak (salvation is through Christ alone). But because I am saved, my words are supposed to reflect the presence of Jesus in my life.

The same mouth should not produce praise and cursing. For example, an apple tree produces apples. It doesn’t produce apples and oranges. Following Jesus is an “all-in” endeavor. You can’t produce apples and oranges, blessing and cursing when you’ve been made into a new creation.

Does that mean we’ll always speak righteous words at the right time, never lashing out in anger or impatience? No, James tells us in our key verse that “no human being can tame the tongue.” Verse 3:2 says “we all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect” (NIV).

What’s the use in trying if no one can be perfect or tame the tongue? The emphasis shouldn’t be placed on how far we fall short. Instead we can focus on how far forward we can progress. When we obey God’s Word to become more like Jesus, we are being perfected. We are getting closer and closer to what Christ is like. We are not expecting perfection from ourselves. But by the grace of God, we are striving toward perfection.

One little, wise word at a time.

A few weeks ago at bedtime, my 6-year-old daughter Lucy looked at me with her big chocolate chip eyes. “Mommy, I appreciate how you say nice things to me. I appreciate that you help me love God and to do the right thing.”

She spoke slowly in that little 6-year-old cadence, and I savored every syllable. It was like a big hug to my soul and in that moment, I felt fully appreciated and applauded. I pressed in tightly for a hug and thought in amazement, “My little girl understands the value of words of affirmation!”

Lucy used her tongue for good. When I was around her age, words spoken to me sent me running to hide. But now, my child’s words empowered me to mother strong another day.

How have you been using your words lately? Your words carry great potential to harm or heal. Have you been building your loved ones up or pointing out their faults? Your tongue is a powerful weapon for good or evil; wield it wisely today.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!