The Hasty Tongue
Do you sometimes offend others because you do not engage your brain before shifting your tongue into drive? Have you ever made a commitment to God or man without giving it much consideration and later reneged on it? The communication of the hasty tongue is done too quickly to be thoughtful or wise.
Offending In Haste
No matter how holy we are, we will eventually offend somebody because of hasty speech. “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2 KJV). Since we can never be totally aware of all of the sensitivities of others, we must depend upon the Holy Spirit to direct our speech in a way that does not tap into their pain, distress, or other negative experiences. I have seen people innocently offend others in an attempt to interject humor into a situation. We must realize that everyone has a different sensitivity level depending on their experiences. I try to practice not being so easily offended and often give others the benefit of the doubt when they make a hasty remark that I might otherwise find offensive.
Responding In Haste
The Bible cautions, “He who answers before listening —that is his folly and his shame” (Proverbs 18:13 NIV). I once had an employee who always responded to my inquiries so hastily that he did not take time to understand what I was really asking. His fear of failure and his need to establish his worth were so great, that he felt compelled to answer quickly to prove that he was adequate. Thus, his answer was usually irrelevant to the question. How frustrating! His actions caused me to view him the very way that he was trying so hard to avoid.
Committing in Haste
God does not want us to be flaky. He expects us to keep our promises. In Ecclesiastes 5:1-7, Solomon warns us against making a hasty, ill-considered vow to the Lord. “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God…” (Ecclesiastes 5:2 NKJV). He goes on to explain that we should not try to wiggle out of our commitment by saying that it was a mistake.
Jephthah learned a lesson on the folly of a hasty vow the hard way—through experience (Judges 11:30-40). When he led the Israelites to war against the Ammonites, he vowed that if God gave him the victory, he would sacrifice to the Lord the first thing that came out of his house upon his return. Little did he know that it would be his only daughter. Scripture is not clear as to whether he sacrificed her on an altar of fire (contrary to God’s laws) or whether she was doomed to be a virgin the rest of her life. However he fulfilled his vow, his daughter was negatively impacted because of his hasty commitment.
Seeing that I was plagued by the malady of hasty speech, one of my mentors admonished me, “Stop, think and pray before you speak.” James, the Lord’s brother, said it best. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak…” (James 1:19 KJV). Have you ever wondered why God gave us two ears and one mouth? Perhaps we are to spend twice as much time listening than talking. A good pause would serve us well in the long run. Time and words are two things that once gone can never be recovered. We must take time to weigh our words before we release them.
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