Be Slow to Respond

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 7:21a, ‘Do not pay attention to every word people say.’


Observations: Ecclesiastes chapter 7 is a collection of proverbs. Solomon has concluded that even though the fate of the wise is no different than the fate of the fool, still wisdom is better than folly (2:13-14). A mark of a wise person is not to pay attention to every word people say. Solomon makes the point that people often react harshly to their circumstances, just like we do. He says, ‘You may hear your servant cursing you, [just as] you yourself have cursed others.’ Solomon is warning us of judging other people differently from ourselves. How often have we said inappropriate things, so why pay attention to others when they say inappropriate things? Jesus tells us not to judge others or we too will be judged (Mt 7:1). Neither Solomon or Jesus are suggesting that we ignore what we people say, rather they are suggesting that we try and understand their circumstances before we react to their words.


Application: Do you easily take offense at people’s words, either how they speak in general, or what they say about you? Solomon encourages us not to react to their words, but reflect on the deeper issues. It’s possible that their words are unjustified, in which case we can ignore them. It’s possible that they have validity in which case we have to take them on board. It’s possible that they’re just having a bad day and we have to be gracious with them. Maybe they have no right to speak into our lives, or they are hypocrites in which case we can dismiss their opinions. Whatever you do don’t react to people’s words, but as James says, ‘be slow to speak and slow to become angry (Jam 1:19)’


Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me when I am overly sensitive to the words of other people, and when I react in ways that dishonour You. Lord, people speak out of turn, and they say stuff that is hurtful and untrue, just like I often do. Keep me from having a judgmental spirit, and instead help me to be gracious and forgiving. Lord, give me the wisdom to be slow to respond, and make me open to the Holy Spirit that I may respond with Your wisdom and grace. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


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