“Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)
The tongue might be the smallest, yet it is the most powerful organ of the body. Like a tiny match stick, the tongue is capable of setting a whole forest ablaze. The tongue is so powerful, when it utters words, we can never take them back. As the saying goes, “wise people think before speaking but fools speak before thinking.”
St. James teaches us today that the mark of a mature Christian is his/her ability to control the tongue. “If anyone thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain.” (James 1:26).
Jesus showed us the power of controlling the tongue when a woman was brought to him who was caught in the act of adultery. It was a double-edged sword. A quick response would have either presented Jesus as one who is against the Law of Moses or as one who is heartless. Jesus took his time by writing on the floor before coming up with a response that sent away those who sought to test Him.
If we react to every provocation, we would be no different from non-Christians, as St. James puts it, we would be like people who look at their image in a mirror and suddenly forget what they look like. We would be hearers and not doers of the word. Anger, when it is not properly controlled brings out the animal in us, it prevents us from the full use of our reasoning faculties. Decisions and statements uttered in anger always turn out to be most regretful.
No matter how angry you are, there is always a way to communicate your pain without regretting later. This skill is called emotional intelligence. It begins by learning to listen deeply to others. This is the meaning of being “quick to hear.” Note that this skill does not come overnight. It takes months and even years of dedicated practice and patience to grab it. More still, it takes the grace of God and constant prayer to become a master of your tongue and your emotions. Don’t forget that you are your own worst enemy.
In the healing of the blind man, Jesus today teaches us that healing happens in a gradual process. Perhaps you have been praying for something for quite some time and it seems as if nothing is happening. Don’t stop. Don’t give up on God. Keep praying, soon what you see as trees walking around would become real humans before your eyes.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to listen more than I speak that I may not fall into the trap of regret. Amen.
Bible Study: James 1:19-27, Ps. 15:2-5, Mark 8:22-26).