Metropolitan United Methodist Church, Indian Head, MD
Take of your disguise
August 29, 2021

Take of your disguise

August 29, 2021

Metropolitan UMC, Indian Head, MD

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James 1:17-27

New International Version

17  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26  Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.



There are few among the wise who have not been impressed by the dangers of being too quick to speak and too unwilling to listen. A most interesting list could be compiled of the things in which it is best to be quick and the things in which it is best to be slow. In the Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, we read: ‘There are four characters in scholars. Quick to hear and quick to forget; his gain is cancelled by his loss. Slow to hear and slow to forget; his loss is cancelled by his gain. Quick to hear and slow to forget; he is wise. Slow to hear and quick to forget; this is an evil lot.’ The Roman poet Ovid encourages people to be slow to punish, but swift to reward. The Jewish writer Philo tells them to be swift to benefit others and slow to harm them.

In particular, the wise teachers were impressed by the necessity of being slow to speak. Rabbi Simeon said: ‘All my days I have grown up among the wise, and have not found aught good for a man but silence … Whoso multiplies words occasions sin.’ Jesus, the son of Sirach, writes: ‘Be quick to hear, but deliberate in answering. If you know what to say, answer your neighbour; but if not, put your hand over your mouth’ (Sirach 5:11–12). Proverbs is full of the perils of speech which is too hasty. ‘When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but the prudent are restrained in speech’ (Proverbs 10:19). ‘Those who guard their mouths preserve their lives; those who open wide their lips come to ruin’ (Proverbs 13:3). ‘Even fools who keep silent are considered wise’ (Proverbs 17:28). ‘Do you see someone who is hasty in speech? There is more hope for a fool than for anyone like that’ (Proverbs 29:20). [1]


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[1] William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter, 3rd ed. fully rev. and updated, The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 62–63.

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