Verse 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
We have talked about some of the basic teachings of Christianity, today we start some of James’ deeper teachings.
First James tells us that everyone should be quick to listen. Not that we “could try” to be quick to listen but that we “should be” quick to listen. We are so quick to jump to conclusions and to defend ourselves, maybe because they are both self-focused. The truth is that we are not as quick to attend to another’s needs or point of view as we are to our own. We are a selfish people and it shows up so often. One of the most important mechanisms of communication is listening. We can’t communicate effectively without truly listening to the other person.
This form of listening isn’t thinking about how we want to respond while they are still talking. Nor is it watching the surrounding activities and ignoring the topic at hand. It may even include hearing the things that they hint at but don’t come right out and say. The key to remember is that listening is a choice.
So what are some ways that we can be purposeful about listening? First it is acknowledging that the person that is talking deserves our respect and attention. Then we have to put ourselves aside and listen to what they are saying. Listen to their words, pay attention to their facial expressions to catch anything that could give better understanding of the feelings behind the words. Look them in the eye and show them you are alert in the conversation by answering their questions the first time they ask them.
A quick note of what listening doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that we will agree with them. In fact when they disagree with God and His statutes we must listen but not accept everything we hear as facts.
And we need to remember that we have One to listen to that isn’t sitting right in front of us. He has spoken in His Word and wants us to listen to Him. When we learn to be quick to listen to Him, we will come to care for others enough to listen to them too.
Making It Personal
How are your listening skills? How do you need to improve your listening skills? How well do you listen to God?
Making It Personal Kids
What are some things that make it hard to listen to someone? Do you struggle in listening to someone? How can you learn to listen better?
Father, forgive us for the ways we fail at listening to You. Give us a love for others that will help us truly listen to them. In Jesus’ name, amen.