Quick to Listen

Posted: February 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

earThis just in, people are difficult to get along with! Truth be told, we all deal with issues of anger, pride, impatience, and so on. The question, how do we handle it? What do we do when faced with conflict in our lives? Fight or flight? Well, the bible tells us to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:19-21 ESV) Here is what Ed Welch, a counselor and faculty member at CCEF, has to say about this…

The common application is that when you are in a tense relationship, listen before you speak, and be sure to keep any frustrations on simmer, not high boil. This is a wise saying, but it is not James’ saying. Instead, he is imploring us to be quick to listen to the word of truth (1:18).

The word of truth is Scripture. It is communication from the Creator God who speaks and his creation obeys. It is communication from the personal God who speaks words of truth to us—from the Father, through the Son, applied by the Spirit. In short, the word of truth is Jesus.

Suddenly this passage is no longer a candidate for Poor Richard’s Almanack, which gave us “God helps those who help themselves,” and not much more about God. For James, practical theology is from above and is always our response to God himself. He speaks and we “do” his speech. We are word-of-God-doers.

So if you are disrespectful toward others with your speech, don’t start by trying to listen to the person in front of you who drives you crazy. Start with meekness before God (1:21). Your problem is not poor interpersonal skills; it is arrogance before God himself. You only listen to him when there is a happy coincidence between your desire and his words. Don’t even think about talking to another person until you have heard the word of the Lord and are silent before him. No backtalk. No grumbling or complaining. Simply rest in the certainty that he is God and you are not, and life is not about the satisfaction of your desires or the supremacy of your will. (I am trying to channel James.)

Once we listen to the word of truth and are silent before God, then—and only then—are we free to speak to those who might be difficult for us.

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 ESV)

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