Chinese Church Voices

Wang Mingdao on the Importance of Being Slow to Speak

Chinese Church Voices is a weekly column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.


One popular new Christian blog in China is called iWorship (爱敬拜). A recent post featured an excerpt of some writing by Wang Mingdao, the famous Chinese evangelist of the early twentieth century. In it, he presents multiple scenarios where it is best to be slow to speak, reminding the reader of the importance of making sure that our words are being used for God’s glory. In the era of social media, which demands a comment or opinion or criticism of everything, it remains a good word for us all today.

Wang Mingdao: Slow to Speak 

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19).

Slow to speak. You have only seen one aspect of many things, and the other sides you have never seen before. You only know a small part of many things, and you have never known the majority of other things. If you only stick to the one aspect you can see or the small bit that you know and jump to a conclusion, you will inevitably be laughed at and looked down upon by others. In the future when you have come to see all aspects of something and know all the pieces, you will regret a slip of the tongue today.

Slow to speak. Now and then you come across a person with a fault and you mistake him for a bad person, when in fact he also has many good aspects that you haven't seen. And sometimes you notice a person who has one good aspect, and you think he is a good person, when in fact he has many faults you have never seen. What kind of harmful consequences will there be if you judge someone as good or bad based only on one thing he has done?

Slow to speak. At times you hear how people sing the praises of someone when in fact he's not that great of a person at all. But they intentionally invent lies to fawn all over him, or they greatly exaggerate his reputation. If you aren't careful, you will find yourself following along with others who say how good he is, and you'll end up making a huge mistake.

Slow to speak. Now and then you hear people criticize how bad a person is, when in fact he is not so bad at all. They are actually jealous of this person, so they slander him, discredit him, and ruin his reputation on purpose. If you aren't careful, you'll find yourself following along with others who talk about how bad he is. You will inevitably fall into the sin of slander and also greatly harm others.

Slow to speak. Many of the things you have heard are rumors. And, even though much of what you heard is based on the facts, it's already been tainted by people and is very far from resembling the original facts. If after you hear something you don't check the facts or check its authenticity and just go along with what people say, you will unintentionally become a rumormonger. 

Slow to speak. Now and then you want to do something, but you don't closely examine your own ability or you don't anticipate a change in the conditions or your prospects, you just go for it. Later on, you find your ability actually isn't sufficient, or the conditions and prospects have changed, and there is no way for you to accomplish what you'd hoped for. At that moment you will feel very ashamed and regretful!

Slow to speak. At times you come across someone who has failed at something and you never thought about how hard it is to do that thing. You never imagined putting yourself in that person's shoes and you even never thought how weak you are yourself. You let out a few words of ridicule or even go so far as to say that if you had tried your hand at it you never would have failed like that. Until one day this same thing falls on you and you actually meet with the exact same failure—at that moment you'll be so ashamed that you won't be able to show your face!

Slow to speak. Sometimes people ask you to do something and you do not consider if it's actually possible for you to do it. At the time it's easy to promise to do it. But when the time comes you can't deliver on your promise, and thus you make things incredibly difficult for others or you greatly disappoint them. You have the misfortune of having to eat your own words. You've hurt other people and hurt yourself. What a huge mistake!

Slow to speak. Sometimes you meet a person; you don't say much, and you think he is an honest and reliable person who loves the Lord. You think he is your close, good friend and you tell him many things in confidence. Later you discover that he is a treacherous, sinister, selfish person. He is prying into your secrets to take advantage of you. At that point you feel a great sense of loss and indescribable remorse! 

Slow to speak. Now and then a friend of yours says or does something to offend you. He did not have the slightest hint of evil intent, but you mistake him for having something against you and making things hard for you. Because of this you say many things that are hard for him to take. Later you realize that he did not say those things or do those things with the slightest malicious intent. How remorseful you will feel then that you let down your friend!

Slow to speak. At times you hear someone speak; he only says a few words, but you think he's wrong. You immediately want to pounce on him and refute him. In fact, if you calmly wait until he's completed his thought, you might possibly even agree with his insights. I often see this kind of fool who doesn't wait for someone to finish talking before suddenly cutting them off to contradict them and say the person is wrong. This is an extremely ignorant move.

Slow to speak. Sometimes when you want to do something you give all you’ve got to get it done. If it is not necessary to first talk about the thing, then you should not be hasty to talk about it. Of course it’s best to just get the thing done. Even if you are unfortunately unable to finish it, you won't have people laughing at you. If people rashly discuss things before they are finished, then they will inevitably incur shame when things fail.

Slow to speak. When people get angry it is very easy to say inappropriate things. Once the anger has died down they regret their slip of the tongue. Rather than remorse for their gaffe, it would be better to initially be slow to speak. 

Slow to speak. When people are happy and in high spirits it is very easy to not control one's words, to such an extent that a slip of the tongue could be offensive.

Slow to speak. “Illness comes in via the mouth because of food and trouble goes out via the mouth because of words" When you eat slowly, you have less chance of getting sick; when you are slow to speak, you have less chance of getting into trouble.

Slow to speak. Do not forget, every word that leaves your mouth should be to God's glory. There is a big connection between other people's fierceness and your own moral conduct.

Slow to speak. The Devil wants to use your own words to tempt you. Evil people want to use your own words to ensnare you. Insightful people want to use your own words to judge what kind of person you are. The people around you want to use your own words for their own benefit or to inflict harm. 

Slow to speak. God knows our weaknesses and the cause of our failures. So, we learn from the Bible, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak."

Original article: 王明道:慢慢地说 (iWorship)

Image credit: Tea House by Wendy Lefkowich via Flickr.
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