I talk a lot. Always have; perhaps I always will. It has certainly been something I had to be mindful of because speaking can get you in trouble. The Bible speaks a lot about the words we speak and even the action of speaking. We are to be quick to listen and we are to be slow to speak.
If we are slow to speak, it allows us to think before we put our foot in our mouth. It also can keep us from sinning. It could prevent you from saying something hurtful or destructive to someone you care about when you are angry or frustrated. Something that is said cannot be unsaid. It’s important that we have the ability to bite our tongue, even if we are right. If we speak without thinking, we will leave behind us a path of destruction.
This verse also speaks about being quick to listen. Listening is often an issue for us. We want to talk. We want to share everything. I think we may like the sound of our own voices. It’s a me world. Listening is harder. It means you are allowing others to control the flow of the conversation. It means you are focused and taking in what the other is saying. Hopefully it means you are truly paying attention to the person. As you listen, you get to know more. As you listen, you basically are acknowledging that the speaker matters. Today, aim to be slower to speak and quicker to listen. Control your tongue.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 [NLT]
God positions people beside us to help. In a world that tries to teach us to use people and to see what they can do for us, the Bible speaks of a reverse system. Rather than seeking what we can get in this world, and what people can do for us, we are taught that we should seek the best interests of others. We are taught that we are to look out for our fellow man. We are to speak life. We are to encourage, We are to build up.
In Romans 15, the Apostle Paul speaks about people who are strong in the Lord. These spiritually mature are to be considerate to others. We are to recognize what is most important. It isn’t about pleasing ourselves. It is not about us at all. Answering the command of the Lord, we are to love others. We should help others to do what is right. We should invest in people. Build them up in the Lord. This is relationship. This is living intentional. This is reaching outward.
Today, consider who God has placed around you. There are mentors around you, who are being led by the Spirit to help build you up. Then there are people around you who are growing in the Lord. Speak life to them. Walk beside them. Take time with them. Invest in them. Remember that you once were there. Align yourself to them and help them to sink their roots deeper into Christ Jesus.
“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.” – Romans 15:1-2 [NLT]
Encouragement is so important. The Bible tells us to encourage others. I have personally seen encouragement go a long way in a person’s life. Paul wrote how he wanted to encourage others in their faith, but then he said something interesting. He said, “But I also want to be encouraged by yours.” What? He wanted to be encouraged by their faith?
Faith is encouraging. When others have faith, it is an encouragement. Even Paul, who many see as this great person of faith, could be encouraged by the faith of others. It is encouraging to see what God is doing through other people. It is encouraging to see others walking in faith. It is a truly a blessing and an honor to share. What an encouragement to those who witness God’s presence in your life.
Today, remember that you can be an encouragement to others. Go out of your way to encourage someone. Speak life. Share a laugh. Walk in faith. Encourage others in their faith. And allow yourself to be encouraged by what God is doing in the lives around you. Look around and watch Him move. He is alive. He is doing great things.
“When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” – Romans 1:12 [NLT]
A tortoise stands up to allow lizards and birds to get the insects that are in the hard-to-reach areas. One would think that a tortoise would not want to surround himself with lizards and birds, that they are very different from the slow-paced life of the tortoise. While this action of the tortoise benefits the tortoise, who likely gets irritated and annoyed by the insects, it also benefits the lizards and birds, who get a nice meal. What a great way for these creatures to live together in harmony!
In life, we are supposed to live in harmony with each other too. This can seem like a hard task as we sometimes do not understand certain people or enjoy their company. We question why someone comes along our path. We see some people near us as a nuisance. There are people we do not see as helpful. Some people are draining. Let’s be honest. It’s true. You will not like everyone. You will not get along with everyone. You may not want to lift yourself up for a lizard to help you out, because you cannot get past the annoyance of the lizard.
When you face these challenges, understand that the other person is created in the image of God. Just like you, the person is a broken image-bearer. It may be for your good that you have encountered the person. Remember, God uses all things to accomplish His great purpose. God is continuing to grow you into who you were meant to be in life. Today, choose to rise up like the tortoise and elevate those around you. As you look out for the best interest of others, as you invest in others and do whatever you can do to speak life to them, God will use what you pour out for His glory and He will continue to mold you into His image and teach you how to love others as He loves.
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” – Romans 12:16 [ESV]
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27 [ESV]
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 [NASB]
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4 [ESV]
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12 [NIV]