James 1:19 says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
Did you know that James was speaking to all of us. He reminded us that we need to make sure we are listening to God’s Word (1:18). The words “quick to listen” are the Bible’s way of teaching about active listening. We are to be ready and willing to listen. The Greek word “quick” implies a “readiness to act on what we hear.”
Today, we believe that the speaker is entirely responsible for getting people to listen by being entertaining, relevant, and engaging. This is NOT TRUE. God’s Word “shifts” the responsibility to the listener, NOT THE SPEAKER.
The Bible teaches us that “quick” listening is to be done with Holy Spirit discernment. We are ALWAYS to check what we hear with God’s Word, the Spirit of God, and mature other believers. If we don’t listen carefully and quickly, we can fall victim to bad teaching and unhealthy thoughts and ideas.
Quick to listen and slow to speak are two sides of the same coin. Slowness in speaking is speaking with humility and patience. Have you noticed that constant talking keeps a person from being able to hear? I wonder if this is intentionally unintentional. When we talk too much and listen too little, we can communicate to others that our thoughts are more important than theirs. The Bible teaches us the reverse is true.
When people talk to us, do they feel that their viewpoints and ideas have value? We should take note of the way Jesus blended the two. Have you noticed that His speaking tended to be marked by brevity? He asked questions, and he listened. He taught, and He ministered.
Have you ever been caught in the tide of too many commitments, too many appointments, too many issues, with too few days? I have noticed that when this happens to me, I can become impatient because I feel the pressure of “NOT ENOUGH.” We can get irritated at unexpected interruptions because there is “NOT ENOUGH.”
Does anyone else feel trapped by the riptide of a hurry-up life? I remember after dinner one evening when my boys were in elementary school. As I was rushing to get ready for a meeting, the words of one of my sons who wanted to tell me something “really” important that had happened at school that day. He came up to me and said, “Dad-I-want-to-tell-you-something-and-I’ll-tell-it-really-fast.” Realizing his frustration with my “I am in a hurry to get to my meeting modality,” I said to him, “Son, you can tell me, and you don’t have to say it really fast; say it slowly.” His “I will never forget” response, “Then listen slowly.” Our kids can teach us some of the best life lessons!
Soon after this exchange with my son, one of my professors handed out a poem by Wilfred A. Peterson titled “Slow me down Lord” to his “hurried” graduate class of “high achievers.” It was impactful and just what we needed. Maybe you, too, might find this beneficial.
Slow me down, Lord. Ease the pounding of my heart through the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me in the midst of confusion of my days the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tension of my nerves with the soothing music of the singing streams that live within my memory. Help me to know the restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations, slowing down to look at a flower, to pat a stray dog, to chat with an old friend or to make a new one, to watch a spider build a web, to smile at a child, or to read a few lines from Your word. Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift, that there is more to life than just increasing its speed. Let me look upward into the branches of the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well. And help me to focus on You. Not my loss, nor my worries, nor my stress. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Today, I am remembering to slow down because it is Friday, and Sunday is coming. The Lord wants to say sometime to us that is really important, and we need to “listen slowly!”
See you Sunday!