We don’t want things to move slowly in our world today. If the line at Starbucks takes too long, we’re tapping our fingers on the steering wheel, ready to rush off as soon as our coffee’s in hand. We expect people to answer our texts as soon as we send them, and heaven forbid if they don’t return our calls as quickly as we think they should.
Sometimes we even seem to be in a competition with those around us to find facts the fastest. What’s the best route to the restaurant? Who’s right about the score of a football game five years ago? When is this? Where was that?
We get our Google searches done and go on our way, expecting everything to work that well.
We have a need for speed that is becoming part of who we are, bound to us by the devices we hold closer than our handbags.
We do instant. We do fast. And it affects how we interact with others.
Because we answer before we think, forgetting that texts don’t carry expressions or emotions, just words. And often not many of those (insert emoji here.)
We get impatient when things take longer than we like, and our unmet expectations rear their ugly heads of irritation and unkind words.
Because we’re so used to being fast, we forget that there are time we need to slow down.
James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
Do you hear that?
The only thing we need to do quickly is listen. Not respond. Not react. Listen.
Hold our tongues and tame them.
It’s hard. I have always been quick-tempered, and my mouth has made much trouble for me. It’s a lifelong lesson, but I’m learning to slow down both of them, my temper and my tongue, because Proverbs 14:17 says, “A quick-tempered person does foolish things.”
Don’t I know it?
How many times did my temper turn situations sideways? How many mistakes have I made by judging too quickly and moving too fast?
Proverbs 14:29 says, “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.”
Maybe the patient person has understanding because she listens instead of speaks?
I think of what Exodus 34:6-7 says about the Lord, that he is “slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”
Hmmm….maintaining love to thousands? I struggle to maintain love to just a few sometimes. I wonder if the fact God is slow to anger has something to do with his ability to love so well? After all, even I know it’s much easier to love people when I am not waiting for every invitation to anger.
The question is: How can I learn from his example? How can I follow it? How can I control my temper and tame my tongue?
Seek to Serve
First, I think we have to follow Christ’s example of service. He said that he came to serve, not be served (Matthew 20:28), and we should have that same attitude. When we are not expecting others to serve us, we’re less likely to feel frustration when they don’t. When we’re looking for opportunities to serve others, rather than chances to be served, we are much more likely to offer grace instead of grumpiness.
Grace is the key to the next way we learn to let go of anger and love others. We overlook offenses. Proverbs 17:9 says, “Whoever would foster love covers over offenses.”
I know it goes against everything around us, especially in this day and time when it seems everyone wants to be offended. Seriously, people seem to search out offenses these days, don’t they?
The thing is we’re not supposed to live according to what is around us but by what’s within us.
The Holy Spirit.
Pursue His Presence
He enables us to forgive others like we have been forgiven. The Spirit produces patience in us; he supplies self-control. It’s the fruit of his presence in our lives (Galatians 5:22), which brings me to the final way we learn to tame our tempers.
By daily spending time in the presence of the one who gives us patience. By seeking his strength in our weakness. By being filled with his love so it overflows to others.
It’s Friday so I’m joining Kate for Five Minute Friday. The prompt this week is: Slow. Join us there, won’t you? You’ll be so glad you did!