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Minister’s Message: Be slow to speak, slow to anger, quick to listen

More than ever, everyone seems to have an opinion on every subject and to be quite animated that their side is the only one that is right.

Timothy Merrill writes about visiting his 7-year-old daughter during lunch period at school. The cafeteria is filled with about 150 kids and assorted parents.

The noise is deafening. All mouths are open at once: talking, yelling, laughing, singing, crying and so on. He finds it difficult to even speak to his daughter and be heard.

After 25 minutes suddenly the cafeteria monitor leans into a microphone and makes an announcement. “Time for silent lunch, children. No talking.”

Instantly it is so quiet you can hear a pin drop. Despite the call for no noise, he leans over to another parent and asks what is going on. The parent explains.

“If we don’t have silent lunch, the children don’t eat. They’re so busy talking and doing other stuff, they forget to eat. If they have to be quiet, well, they might as well eat their lunch. So, the last five minutes of lunch period is silent lunch. That’s when they eat.”

Beautiful! Someone at that school had clearly studied psychology. In a moment of quiet, a person can be fed.

That truth doesn’t just hold in the physical realm. It also holds spiritually and emotionally. James, likely one of the brothers of Jesus, writes in the New Testament about living the good life. His advice is this: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” – James 1:19.

Beautiful! That’s advice so relevant to our situation today that it can be written on the bathroom mirror so we see it every day: We must be slow to speak and be angry, quick to listen.

More than ever, everyone seems to have an opinion on every subject and to be quite animated that their side is the only one that is right. And we communicate that at every possible moment, in every possible way: talking, yelling, laughing, singing, crying and so on.

But then I envision the school cafeteria and quiet lunch and I see a different way to live. I don’t have to constantly add to the noise. I can bring a little brown bag of quiet lunch with me wherever I go.

And perhaps we should note that there is certainly a godly anger that springs up when we see others hurting and that motivates us to do good for them. James is not against that. But the instant anger that springs up every time someone says something I don’t agree with doesn’t come from God.

So pay attention to your heart. Is it hurting? Do you feel any hunger pangs? Then the next time you are around family or friends, bring along a little quiet lunch. Who knows? It might be the best lunch you’ve ever eaten.

Rick Cupp is minister at Kenai Fellowship. Sunday worship at 11 a.m., posted live on Facebook.

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