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When to Be Quick and When to Be Slow

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Text:  James 1:19-27


            Ever spoken a word you wish you could take back?  Ever let your anger get the best of you?  Who hasn’t?!

            There aren’t too may wise men out there who got that way by being quick with the tongue and short on listening.  If fact, to be wise, just the opposite has to happen.

            The Jewish Fathers had a saying, “There are four characters in scholars.  If you are quick to hear and quick to forget, your gain is cancelled by your loss.  If you are slow to hear and slow to forget, your loss is cancelled by your gain.”  Not bad, huh?!

            Another Jewish Father said, “Be swift to hear the words of others so that you understand them.  If you have understanding, share it with your neighbor.  If don’t have understanding, cover you mouth so that you are not embarrassed by what comes out and it leaves you embarrassed.”  Another goody!

            In our text, James gives us some pretty concise, but precious wisdom.  Read text.

1.      Why do you suppose the Lord gave us one mouth with which to speak and two ears to hear with?     How long does it take for the mind to engage the tongue?

2.      What does it take for you to be able to stop something in the middle of saying something you don’t want to say?  Give some practical advice about guarding your tongue.

3.      What practical advice do you get out of each of these Proverbs?  Look for dangers of hasty speech.  Prov. 10:19; 13:3; 17:28; 29:20

4.      It is by the ears that we take in the scriptures and godly counsel from others.  The result depends upon whether we will follow what we hear.  How can we tell whether someone is taking to heart godly instruction?  Matt. 15:10-20  (By their speech and their daily walk.)

5.      What can you say about the character of a man who is slow to anger?     What do these Proverbs have to say about it?  Prov. 16:32; 25:28; 14:29

6.      Why is it that the emotion of anger is so difficult to achieve the righteousness of God?     Is there a place for blazing anger or rebuke?     How do you apply it righteously?

7.      Which has more power, anger or love?  Prov. 10:12   Which achieves more, encouragement or a lash of the tongue?  2 Tim. 2:24-25

8.      Next James urges us to have a teachable spirit, starting with casting away filthy garments of wickedness.  How do you do that?     How does a man know whether his spiritual garments are dirty or not?  (By the word implanted; by the Holy Spirit’s conviction; by comments of others close to you.)

9.      “Receiving the Word implanted” implies more than just listening.  What else is meant here?  Rev. 2:7    How do prejudices block our listening?

10.  Just putting the word in our mind isn’t sufficient either.  What else is needed according to Ja. 1:22 and Jn. 14:15?

11.  Why is the illustration of looking in a mirror a good illustration at this point?  Ja. 1:23-25  (When you hear and act upon the Word, it becomes a part of your life.  When you hear and don’t act upon it, you soon forget, just like forgetting what you see after you walk away from a mirror.)

12.  What does James suggest in order not to be a hearer only?  (Look intently at = to study it, abide by it, make it a part of your daily walk.)

13.  According to verse 26, what is a good indication that a man’s religion is doing him some good?  Eph. 4:29

14.  An unbridled tongue shows a man’s religion is worthless.  What actions show his religion is pure and undefiled? 

15.  What have you found that works best to keep yourself unstained from the world?  (Accountability; much time in the Word; specific word study on the things that lure me away.)


            Taming the tongue is a life-long endeavor.  Sometimes we lose more ground than we have gained.  But let me encourage you to not give up.  Press on to making your speech glorify the Lord with every sentence.  Beauty of speech makes for someone worth listening to. 

            Another life-long endeavor is keeping us unstained from the world.  Don’t give up!  Do whatever you have to do to make sure your final address is nothing less that “Gold-Paved Lane, Heaven”.

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