It’s time to start a fire in the wood-stove. I’ve got two ways I could hit this. One is start small, gently laying a piece of kindling at a time, slowly, lightly fanning the baby flames, gradually placing larger pieces of wood very carefully, until a roaring fire is in place. OR I could throw everything in the stove outright, maybe a little gasoline or lighter fluid, and pray for the best. My first option is slower and will take longer, but I think it’s safer than my second. I’ll invest the time and go with the first option.
Then it’s time to cook the meat and make the bread for supper. Again, I see I have two options. The first is the slow approach. I can turn the stove on low, letting the meat, garlic, onion, and salt simmer over a long haul, soaking up all the flavors and the aroma permeates the house. I put all my ingredients for bread in the bowl and knead gently, working it all together with my hands, let it rise, and bake slowly, and the wonderful smell of freshly baked bread wafts through my living space. OR, I could slap the meat, garlic, onion, and salt into the microwave and it’ll be ready in a few minutes, then toss the bread ingredients in a machine to mix and microwave it as well. That would be the quicker option, but somehow I don’t think getting the desired results. Again, I’ll go with the first way, slower and steadier.
It seems like the quicker way is very rarely the better way to go. When building a fire, cooking, doing car or house repairs, talking a nature-walk or horseback riding, reading a book, playing with my children, it’s mostly better to go slow. The tortoise always wins, never the hare. There are times to hurry and win the race, but most of our races are marathons, not sprints, and marathons are best won slow. “Slow and steady win the race.”
How does this apply to the words we use and conversations we have? Where is the civility today? We live in loud, fast, fast and wordy times. Words are not in short supply. How do you text, respond on social media, interact with your spouse, parents, and children? Quick words? Emotional words? Victory-laden and vicious intent? Off-the-cuff? “I’m going to make my point as fast as possible, you’re an idiot, and I’m right!” We shoot our emails and take less than 10 seconds to post a scathing reply on Facebook. 95% of our texts are read and responded to within 90 seconds of receiving. It doesn’t take long to accuse, gossip, assume, or slander. Once you squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube, you can’t put it back in. Words kill, quick words kill quickly.
Using words should be a slow process. “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.” “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” Let us speak as God would have us to. Listen to Jesus’ solemn warning from Matthew 12:36-37, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Let us plan to slowly respond, on social media, in texts, and face-to-face. Think and pray about the issue 24 hours before making a response. Maybe talk over the issue with a trusted third party before responding. Talk with the person who started the conversation with you and be prepared to listen. Did you hear and understand what they are saying? Use your two ears first before your one mouth. DON’T USE ALL CAPS, YOU DON’T NEED TO YELL. Use words that build up, not tear down. Write out your response beforehand, not “off the cuff.” Be patient and kind. The person you’re speaking with (not to) is made in the same image of God like you; speak to him as you would want to be spoken to. Love one another with slow words.