My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20 (NIV)
Are you ready to take notes? Are you ready and willing to listen carefully to what I want to say to you? You have my full attention. I’m ready to take notes and write down everything you want to say to me. That’s good. Start writing. You have not been a good listener. Have you ever thought of listening without thinking about what you might say next? Not really. You have been far more concerned about what you might say than with what you might hear. I’m sure that’s true. Why is that? I have liked to debate. I have wanted to present my point of view. I have wanted to make my case. I have wanted to win arguments. That’s funny. What’s funny about that? You want to win. You have been so concerned with winning an argument or debate that you haven’t listened well. You have been quick to speak. You have been slow to listen. You have allowed yourself to angrily debate an issue, when the far better course would have been to listen and keep your mouth shut. What’s funny, ironic really, is that the sure way to lose out in life is to not listen well to what others are saying to you. You would be far better off to listen carefully to others rather than to quickly speak what is on your mind. I have a question for you. I’m listening. How many ears have I given to you? You have given me two ears. That’s right. How many mouths have I given to you? You have given me one mouth. That is also right. Your answers should give you a clue about how much I want you to listen and how much I want you to speak. You want me to listen twice as much as I speak? Sometimes, I want you to speak far less than that.
Do you like what has happened to you when you have allowed yourself to get caught up in a heated debate? No, not really. Why is that? I have not enjoyed the experience of rushing into a debate. Then, I know that I have not listened well. I know that I have not taken in what has been said to me. I have not allowed myself to benefit from what others have said to me. The words of others have gone in one ear and out the other, if they have entered my hearing at all. Why is that? I have been filled with pride. I have not valued the thoughts and words of others. I have thought that I knew better. I have thought that I knew it all. Do you know it all? No, I know very little. I need all the help and wise counsel I can receive. That’s very good. Yes, you do need wise counsel from people that I will bring into your life. To receive that counsel, you must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Will you do that? Yes Lord, I will. I will listen more carefully. When you listen more carefully, speak less often and don’t allow yourself to become angry, you will be able to live the righteous life that I am calling you to live. That’s what I want.
Lord, I have been impatient and filled with pride. I have been a poor listener that thought I knew it all. I have been quick to speak to offer my opinion. In the heat of debate, I have allowed anger to grow in me. No more! Help me to live the life you desire for me. Amen
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