BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Slow but steady wins the race. This is one of the wise sayings that underscore the wisdom in not being hasty. Haste makes waste. It is wise to be careful and thoughtful before you act.
The Bible has a lot to say on the need not to be hasty, and every obedient child of God will do well to take heed to what the Bible says. Your life won’t be what God wants it to be if you are habitually hasty. The Bible records different times when people acted in haste and the consequences. Their stories are recorded as examples to learn from. You should not allow your own personal experience to be your best teacher in this regard! Let the Word of God be your best teacher. Those who are hasty, live to regret their actions; they wished they had been more patient. Let me show you from God’s Word, some areas, not all, that you must avoid being hasty.
1. Don’t be hasty to speak. Many people are in trouble today because they spoke earlier than necessary; they spoke too soon. If only they had exercised a little restraint. A man who didn’t say anything, you can’t misquote him. Hear the wisdom of God: “Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20 NKJV). Look at that comparison. It’s a serious thing. Someone hasty in words is worse than a fool! Hasty speech is not a mark of wisdom.
One mark of spiritual maturity is your ability to control your tongue. The Bible says, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19 NKJV). When next somebody tells you something or asks you a question, don’t be too quick to answer. Think before you speak, not the other way round. Fools speak before they think. Don’t be a fool!
This also extends to every other form of communication. Don’t be hasty to write a letter, a petition or a complaint. Don’t be hasty to send a text message – think first and read through well. Don’t be hasty to sign that contract paper or that agreement – read through, pray; in some cases, you may even need to get a lawyer to study it for you and advise you – if you don’t want to pay a lawyer now, you may pay more later. Don’t be penny-wise, pound foolish. Refuse to be stampeded into any action you may regret later.
2. Don’t be hasty to make vows or promises. Have you ever made a promise you wished you didn’t make? Have you ever made a vow to God or pledge out of zeal, emotion, or external influence only for you to be looking for someone’s opinion, God’s permission, or whatever to free you from the burden of the vow you emotionally made? This is what I call “post-vow dissonance!” This is similar to “post-purchase dissonance,” which refers to a buyer’s remorse or buyer’s regret i.e unease or dissatisfaction in a customer’s mind after purchasing a product or service. Ecclesiastes 5:2a warns, “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God” (NKJV).
Once you make a vow to God, it is binding on you, so you should not for any reason be emotional and hasty in making vows or promises (Psalm 56:12). Jephthah’s rash vow was binding on him (Judges 11:30-31, 34-35). Integrity also demands that you keep your promises to people – they’re binding on you, especially legal or contractual agreements.
Joshua and the rulers of Israel were hasty in making agreement or covenant with the Gibeonites who had pretended they came from a far country whereas they were actually their neighbours. They should have taken their time to investigate their claims, but they were deceived by their cock and bull story. However, at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that the Gibeonites were living near them (Joshua 9:16-18). But the deed had been done. It was too late. They could only curse them, but not fight them!
Several years later, Saul brought a three-year famine upon Israel in the days of David because he had killed the Gibeonites in violation of the covenant with them (2 Samuel 21:1).
As atonement for Israelites’ sin, and for the Gibeonites to bless the Israelites, they demanded from King David seven men of the descendants of Saul to be hanged before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul (2 Samuel 21:5-6). David granted their request. A promise is a promise. Think before you make a promise or an agreement; don’t act in haste.
A vow made to God is not a bribe that makes God answer your prayers! God can still answer your prayers without a vow. Therefore, don’t make a thoughtless vow out of desperation to get an answer from God. It’s not a sin not to make a vow, but a sin to make a vow and not fulfil it. “Better not to vow than to vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:5 NKJV). Don’t delay fulfilling your vow (Psalms 22:25; 61:8, 66:13, 116:14, 18).
3. Don’t be hasty to show anger. Anger could be destructive, especially when it is shown hastily. Many people blame such a show of anger on their temperament, but that is not a tenable excuse for such a habit. Your temperament should not control you; you should control your temperament. That is maturity. You should not be controlled by anger; you should be able to control anger when it wants to express itself. The Bible says, “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:4 NKJV). Ephesians 4:26-27 says a similar thing: “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil” (NKJV). Therefore, don’t be in haste to be angry. Be patient with people because all of us are different, and at different levels of growth and maturity. Be patient with your husband, wife, subordinates, superiors, younger ones, and others.
If you need to show your anger at something done by someone, calm yourself down and do it in love and make sure you’re in control of your emotions; don’t let anger control you as is often the case with many people when they’re angry. Don’t be boiling inside with anger – that boiling is boiling some of your internal organs destroying your health! Don’t be angry to the point of saying things you’ll later regret saying. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Don’t be quick-tempered, for anger is the friend of fools” (NLT). The New King James Version puts it this way: “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” Since you are not a fool, don’t hasten to be angry! Leave hasty anger for fools.
4. Don’t be hasty to be rich. This is the reason for the various evil deeds that people go into just to achieve their objective of getting rich. Their desperation to be rich drove them to commit unimaginable atrocities. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:9-10 NKJV).
Proverbs 21:5 warns, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty” (NKJV). Did you see that? Hasting to become rich, many have violated the Word of God and even those who are believers have compromised the Word of God. And did they get rich? No. Their shortcuts made them poor if not poorer. “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5 NLT).
Even those who may appear to have become rich through criminal shortcuts, many times, end in poverty. Proverbs 13:11 says, “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows” (NLT). The few who are still able to keep their ill-gotten wealth suffer from a poverty of peace of mind and will end their lives in hellfire if they repent not. “How terrible it will be for you who get rich by unjust means!” (Habakkuk 2:9a NLT).
Be careful; don’t be hasty to be rich. God knows what your needs are and patiently and carefully follow His Word on how to meet your needs. Don’t fall for the love of money; don’t be hasty to be rich.
5. Don’t be hasty to put people in positions. This includes employment, posting, and appointment. Man is a highly sophisticated creature! Many people have ruined their businesses, ministries, organizations, families, and even their lives because they were hasty in putting people in positions via employment, appointment, or posting. There are house helps employed by some wives that ended up breaking their homes or harming their children. Does one need to talk about employees that have made their employers go bankrupt?
As a child of God, don’t depend on your senses alone; be led by the Spirit of God. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). Don’t be hasty to bring into your home, office, business, or organization someone whose three-month stay will create a lifetime problem for you! Shakespeare says in Macbeth: “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.” I’m not sure you’ll disagree.
Don’t be carried away by charisma; look out for character. Don’t just look at the face; listen to your heart. All that glitters is not gold. Things, and even people, are not usually as they first appear to be. The most qualified person on paper may not be the most suitable person for the post. Therefore, don’t be in a hurry. I’m not talking about going about suspecting people. Take your time to pray. Let God guide your decision. “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5 NKJV). Also, Proverbs 3:5-7 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn your back on evil” (NLT). What a piece of advice!
In 1 Timothy 5:22a, Paul warned about being hasty in appointing elders in the church. “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily” (1 Timothy 5:22a NKJV). The New Living Translation renders it thus: “Never be in a hurry about appointing an elder.” I believe this wise counsel will be helpful in all spheres of life and not only in the church. Don’t let the urgency of filling a position drive you to act in haste. It’s better to be precautious and get it right than to be hasty and mess things up! If you’re not hasty, you’ll together with other measures, be able to minimize cases of PUREs – Previously Undetected Recruiting Errors – that employers often face.
6. Don’t be hasty to take people to court. Litigation is not always the best way to resolve a dispute. As a joke, some would say if there’s no litigation, lawyers won’t eat! However, the truth is that litigation is not the only thing lawyers do. Litigation is usually advised when amicable means of resolution fails. Litigation should not be the first option. Even when a suit is eventually decided and a party wins, what about the time it takes to go through the judicial process and other resources committed to it? Shouldn’t the two parties have agreed and settled before going to court? Or even when the case is already in court, shouldn’t the parties have agreed to settle out of court? But for different reasons, that doesn’t happen. Thankfully, arbitration is now becoming attractive, even to both lawyers and their clients, as an alternative means of dispute resolution.
The Bible is not against a child of God going to court, but it wants other means of amicable settlement to be exhausted, so as to avoid the invaluable time invested (wasted?) in litigation that may be prolonged.
The Bible also talks of the loss of reputation if you lose a lawsuit especially a hasty lawsuit. Proverbs 25:8 says, “Do not go hastily to court; for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor has put you to shame?” (NKJV). Verses 9-10 says, “So discuss the matter with them privately. Don’t tell anyone else, or others may accuse you of gossip. Then you will never regain your good reputation” (NLT).
In fact, if everyone will follow the instruction of Jesus, court cases will be reduced drastically because most cases will not get to court before they’re settled. Jesus says, “Why can’t you decide for yourselves what is right? If you are on the way to court and you meet your accuser, try to settle the matter before it reaches the judge, or you may be sentenced and handed over to an officer and thrown in jail. And if that happens, you won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny” (Luke 12:57-59 NLT). Does that not make sense? Many have decided to act contrary to good sense and cause trouble for themselves. Don’t be in haste to take people to court, and only do so eventually if it becomes inevitable.
7. Don’t be hasty to act beyond your power. Know the limit of your power. Don’t abuse or misuse your power. Many have lost their positions or offices because of this. British historian, Lord Acton (1834-1902), in “Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton”, said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Be careful! Don’t be a power-drunk!
In the Bible, King Saul was hasty in acting beyond his mandate. When Prophet Samuel delayed in coming after seven days as he had earlier promised Saul (1 Samuel 10:8), he went to offer sacrifice to God, which was beyond his power. “Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. So Saul said, ‘Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.’ And he offered the burnt offering. Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him” (1 Samuel 13:8-10 NKJV). Did you see that phrase: “as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering”? As soon as Saul finished the sacrifice, Samuel came. If only Saul had waited a little bit more.
Samuel had told Saul, “Then go down to Gilgal ahead of me and wait for me there seven days. I will join you there to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. When I arrive, I will give you further instructions” (1 Samuel 10:8 NLT). However, Saul failed to wait, even if it meant waiting longer than the time he had been told. Shouldn’t he have been concerned about the “further instructions” Samuel promised to give him? Saul shouldn’t have intruded into the office of a priest and offer sacrifice. That foolish act of Saul was the beginning of his end.
Hear his lame defence before Samuel: “Saul said, ‘When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the LORD.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering” (1 Samuel 13:11-12 NKJV). NEVER FEEL COMPELLED TO DO WHAT YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO DO. Don’t be under pressure to do what is beyond your scope of duty, which you have not received approval to do.
Ecclesiastes 8:4 says, “The king’s command is backed by great power. No one can resist or question it” (NLT). Keep the commandment of the King of kings and the rules and laws that are operating anywhere you find yourself. God ordained government. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:1-4 NKJV).
1 Peter 2:13-16 says a similar thing: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men — as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God” (NKJV). Be not hasty to disobey authorities once their laws do not oppose the Word of God.
8. Don’t be hasty to do evil. Proverbs 6 talks about seven things that are an abomination to the Lord. These include the feet that are swift in running to evil (verse 18 NKJV). Proverbs 1:16 says of sinners that their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood (NKJV). Isaiah 59:7a also speaks in the same light: “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood” (NKJV). Stressing the fact that all people, Jews and Gentiles, are sinners, Paul says, “Their feet are swift to shed blood” (Romans 3:15 NKJV). All these scriptures point to people doing evil by killing the innocent.
Proverbs 10:23 says to do evil is like sport to a fool, but a man of understanding has wisdom. The majority is not always right. Even if it’s a crowd that wants to do what is evil – what is wrong – don’t join them (Exodus 23:2a).
You must avoid any swiftness towards evil. Your swiftness should be towards doing what is commanded in the Word of God. Your swiftness should be to obey the voice of the Spirit of God.
CONCLUSION: There are more areas you should not be hasty. I have only discussed some. Make it a principle of your life not to be hasty. God created you in His own image and gave you a high thinking faculty. Use this gift of God, but don’t promote it above the leading of the Holy Spirit or direct instructions from the Word of God.
Don’t do anything contrary to the Word of God. Don’t be in haste to do anything the voice of the Spirit of God in you is against. Think and pray, and be controlled by the Holy Spirit. “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily” (Isaiah 28:16 NKJV).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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