Think Before You Speak

February 7, 2023
Think Before You Speak

Nehemiah “After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials.” (Nehemiah 5:7)


When the Israelite nobles and officials began ripping off their own people, Nehemiah became very angry. He knew he had to do something so he spent time thinking it over. The Hebrew word here literally means "I consulted with myself.” He got alone with God, prayed about it, thought about it some more to get the right perspective. There are times when a leader needs to talk to himself to get the right perspective. Nehemiah sat down and thought, "What's really going on here? I'm really ticked off. I'm irritated beyond belief. I'm upset and fed up with this whole situation. But what's really happening here?"

When we get angry, we should always set aside some time for reflection and thinking. This takes time and helps us to think twice before we take action. This is good because when we get angry our first reaction is usually wrong. There is nothing wrong with getting angry. There are some things we ought to get upset about when we see selfishness preventing or harming the work of God. But before we do anything about it, we should stop and think, especially before we speak.

James writes, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires.” (James 1:19-20). This scripture is not a contradiction. There is a difference between man's anger and God's anger. Man's anger is when we act in revenge. God's anger is when we act in righteousness. There is no personal vendetta involved. We can’t say, “I'm going to get angry because you hurt me, you irritated me, you frustrated me, and you disappointed me.” That's the wrong kind of anger. That happens when we’re angry because of our own selfishness. Somebody didn't live up to our expectations. What James is saying is, "Be quick to listen and slow to speak, and your anger will come slowly." If we do the first two items he mentions then the third one is automatic. If we're quick to listen and slow to speak then we will be slow to become angry. And the anger we have will be godly anger after we've thought it through and then consulted further with ourselves.


Do you have a righteous anger about anything right now? Write it out on a piece of paper. Then, spend time praying about it. Then, spend time reconsidering the issue from multiple perspectives before you act. If you’re leading your family through this devotion, have a discussion about why it’s important to think before you act or speak. Then pray as a family that God would help each family member remember this whenever he or she becomes angry.


Lord, whenever I get angry, help me to pray. After I’ve prayed, help me to think about how I need to respond before I act or speak, and then let my actions and words be pleasing in Your sight. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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