September 10, 2009

Be Slow to Speak

Job 42:1-6

“Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”
Job 42:3


Some time ago, while reading Job 42 for my devotions, I had a scary thought: sometimes we do what Job did when he was trying to make God accountable for his actions (see Job 38-41). Sometimes we talk about things we don’t understand.

Sometimes we try to explain a Bible passage we don’t comprehend. At other times we offer cheap words of comfort or give glib answers to life’s problems.

Job asked for God’s forgiveness for speaking without really understanding. He repented of speaking up too hastily. At one point Job said, “I [must] put my hand over my mouth” (Job 40:4).

Those of us who are in the habit of being quick to speak may need to literally put our hand over our mouth. Some of us need to be forgiven for the times we spoke of things we did not understand or for giving answers when there were none.

James 1:19 tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. We have to stop talking and start listening. Years ago a seminar speaker told us that if we hoped to be effective in our service for Christ we had to put James’s warning into practice.

Unfortunately some of us are not only slow to listen; we are also slow to learn. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us become slow to speak.

Father, forgive us for being quick to speak, and show us when we should put our hand over our mouth. Help us to use the gift of speech to honor you. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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