My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because our anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 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. (1:19-21)
James says when it comes to speaking and losing our temper, unhurried is the way to go. But when it comes to listening, we should jump at the opportunity. Is this how you regularly function? Me either. My pattern is too often the opposite. I can’t wait to say what’s on my mind. I can be very quick to lose patience. And when it comes to listening, I’m as sluggish as honey on a winter morning. I have a definite bias for speaking over listening. And my anger level is one measure of which I’m doing more.
As an introvert, you’d think counsel like this would be right up my alley. But as a leader, I usually solve things by talking. I’m a speaker, a teacher, and a presenter. I speak for a living. Slow to speak can feel unprofitable. But maybe following this counsel would be more fruitful than I expect. Maybe listening better would reduce the anger that jars my relationship with God and with others.
Where is my listening focused? James says, “Humbly [accept] the word planted in us which can save us.” I’m listening especially when it comes to what God is saying to me through scripture. Listening and salvation are working partners. I tend to seek rescue through saying something. But listening is a receptive mode of life. It’s a way of acknowledging that I need to hear what God and others have to say, that I need help from another. Do I believe this? Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t.
- In the very next conversation you have (live or on the phone), experiment with listening more than you speak. Trying asking a few more questions and making a few less statements. Seek to really understand the person you are speaking with. What might God have for you through what they are saying?
When it comes to reading scripture next time, perhaps read a few less verses and read them a few more times. Slowly. Receptively. As a listener. What is God saying through the scripture by the Spirit to your heart? What help is He offering?