Who’s Calling Shotgun?

“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. ” James 1: 19-20 Message

One of the reasons I love flipping over and reading the Message translation every so often is because it will sometimes prompt me to see a familiar verse with fresh eyes.

When I read these words in James 1 this morning I acknowledged an ongoing struggle of mine. Sometimes I don’t let anger “straggle along in the rear” sometimes anger hitches a ride with my tongue and they fight over who is going to ride shot gun.

Here’s a post I wrote just last year.  I reread it again this morning because I need the reminder often.  The onion peeling process continues.   An interesting side note: Earlier this week I discovered and blogged about how the word understanding is mentioned 30 times in 31 chapters in the Book of Proverbs. Guess what else is mentioned 30 times?

“Take the cotton out of your ears and stick it in your mouth.”

This funny yet helpful advice has crossed my mind a number of times in the last few months. The first time I heard someone say it, I was sitting in a narrow downstairs room in a Baptist church at one of my first AA meetings. I think the room must have been, at one time, a storage closet converted into a meeting room. As I think back on this now, it was kind of appropriate to be having recovery meetings in a storage closet. You come across and uncover a lot of junk in storage closets.

There’s wisdom in that funny advice above.  And, nowadays, whenever it comes to mind, this verse from James 1:19 is quick to follow:

“My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger…” HCSB

Over the years, I’ve often said that I think Jesus seems to take us on an onion peeling journey. And this be quick to listen slow to speak layer appears to be the layer we have hit. In case you’re like me and need the more direct approach. I am learning, over and over, that in most situations in my life I need to shut up and listen…first.  This comes before explaining, justifying, complaining or defending. This verse in James doesn’t say not to speak…but to be slow to speak. I tend to have a problem with the slow part.

This morning I counted how many times the word listen came up in the Book of Proverbs: 30 times.  30 times in just 31 chapters.  I’m thinking it must be important.

Dear, Lord, keep peeling the onion. I may not be sitting in a storage closet…but I know there is still junk in this heart that needs to be cleaned out and replaced by Your words, Your love, and Your compassion. 

“a wise man will listen and increase his learning,
and a discerning man will obtain guidance.” ~ Proverbs 1:5

My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. 

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