Avoiding “Foot-in-Mouth” Disease

I’ve had a few encounters with the mafia over the years. One was with a man who was an accountant for the mob. He and his wife started coming to our church but she came to me with complaints about him being abusive.

I met with the two of them to confront him. “This needs to stop,” I said, “Or, you’ll need to stop attending our church.” I had heard rumors that he was mafia-connected. Still, I didn’t take those rumors seriously until he said, “Wait a minute! Do you know who I work for?”

Before I had time to think, I leaned over and pointed upward toward heaven while shouting, “Do you know who I work for???”

He backed off…and that was a good thing because I would have needed a change of pants had he challenged me.

By God’s grace, it worked out great because he was more afraid of God than he though I was of him….

Opening the mouth before engaging the brain…

Most of the time, speaking before we think doesn’t work out as well as it did for me with my mafia friend. Normally, it leads to disaster.

So how do we avoid that?

James tells us that we should be, “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…(James 1:19).” What he actually does here is give us a formula for staying out of trouble. Here’s the truth:

  1. IF we are “swift to hear,”
  2. We WILL be “slow to speak.” And,
  3. IF we are “swift to hear and slow to speak,” we’ll be “slow to wrath.”

I have found that focusing on listening keeps me quiet when I should be quiet. It also helps me avoid imputing motives and jumping to conclusions which may be false. It works–try it! You might like it.

So…if you’ve been guilty of “foot-in-mouth” disease, try the James 1:19 formula. And, let me know how it works for you!


Till then,

Pastor Joel



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