Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stop, look & listen (James 2) (James 1:19-27, Psalm 141:3)

"Listen before you speak"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

This verse makes me uncomfortable, and I have to laugh at myself.  That's me!  I need to slow down and listen before I speak.  After the tragedy in Boston, someone told me it was Muslims that did it.  I know that's too broad of a statement; I have American Muslim friends.  We all really need to get the facts before assuming we know.  I'm grateful it's being handled that way.  I wrote a prayer at the end of this post for Boston and those affected. This violence is frightening.  But we will walk on in faith.  America is our country, independent, home of the brave, land of the free.  "God bless America!"  Our forefathers faced much more than this.  Some are my ancestors.  I'm still here.

I was raised in Southern California.  We lived by Huntington Beach, not too far from Los Angeles.   All the nationalities and races were there.  It was the 1960's.  I went to an experimental, progressive school across the street.  They measured your IQ, but wouldn't tell you what it was.  Would've been nice to know, maybe I would've payed more attention in school.  We weren't allowed to "tattle" or tell the teacher about other children's misbehavior.  I received the citizenship award for a few years.  Then I was told I couldn't have it again. It was time for someone else to get it.  Not sure why only one person got the award. 

At the time, the pollution was so bad we had smog alerts.  We weren't allowed to go outside and play.  We also had to do bomb alert drills. We were taught to "drop and cover," under our desks if a bomb was dropped or an earthquake came (yikes!).  By 5th grade, teachers weren't permitted to discipline children at all.  A girl shot rubber bands at me while the teacher silently sat, and watched.  It's good to be an adult now.  So when should we speak up and when should we be quiet?

As I read James, what came to mind was the saying we heard as kids about crossing the street, "Stop, look and listen."  Don't jump to conclusions and start babbling (blush).  Pay attention.  I've always imagined Jesus as the ultimate listener.  I can see Him sifting through all the sounds around Him, a sigh, tears, laughter, words...

James 1:19-27

Be quiet while angry.
19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Don't speak when your completely and totally angry.  There's that red faced, bulging eyed anger that we all experience at times.  The first thing that comes out is usually something we'd really not want repeated.  I usually take a breath and ask the Holy Spirit for words to say.  Sometimes I just march off and try to calm down.  Breath...  Honestly though, the Holy Spirit helps the most.

Don't cuss or swear, be quiet instead.
21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
To me this speaks of using cuss words or bad language.  Those words are still in my mind ready to pop out.  Wish I never learned them.  It's a challenge to fill our hearts with God's Word, memorize scripture.  Learn to step away from a fight and pray.  To be meek is to be quiet, gentle and humble.  Not so easy without the Lord's help.  Reading and writing this reminds me of how I talk to my husband at times.  I have some work to do.

Do the Word of God, don't just think about it.  Challenging right?
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
This raises some flags in my heart.  What have I done lately?  Do I stop, look and listen to those around  me?  I try and speak to those in the grocery store if I'm next to them.  I pray for those I see in pain or a wheelchair.  What if I asked the Lord to show me who I should help?  See with His eyes and hear with His ears. Hmmm.

26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Verse 27 is one of my very favorite verses.  I became a Christian on my own.  I prayed that if God was real He'd show me the true Church.  A few weeks later I was invited to a Southern Baptist Revival by next door neighbors.  I accepted the Lord as my Savior.  But I had no idea how to read the Bible or what it was like to be a Christian.  So when I read verse 27, I was so relieved : )  In fact, one of my first ministries was visiting an elderly widow in a Nursing Home.  It's so simple, help each other out.  Look after those in need.

Then there's this verse:
"Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips."
Psalm 141:3

After a few years I got to leave my first school.  We moved, and I went to a normal school.  I saw someone get paddled for the first time (besides my big brother).  It was so fun!  I learned embroidery. The girls gossiped and giggled.  I began to learn things.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I lift up those in Boston to You.  I pray You will heal them of the horrible images.  Please comfort those who mourn.  I pray Your Holy Spirit will guide the doctors in helping the injured.  Help them find strength and courage under all of this stress and ugliness.  Please send the angels to supervise, hold hands, and wipe tears.  Let Your hand be with them.  For nothing is impossible for You Father.  My hope is in You.
In Jesus Name, Amen

At this point, I think the authorities would appreciate it if we stop, look and listen for things out of the ordinary around us.  Maybe we could prevent another tragedy.  Prayer is always good : )


  1. Hi Karen,
    Amen, prayer is always good. We sure do need it here in America. I am praying with you over the bombing.

    I love James, it has some powerful passages we all need to hear and be doers of. Thank you for sharing your thoughts from the scriptures in James. Concerning what you said about being doers of the word, It also raised some red flags with me. What am I doing?


  2. Thanks Ken, I appreciate the encouragement : ) It seems so easy to slip into a comfortable way of doing things and forget our mission for Jesus. God bless!