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)
I have not been the best of listeners. I’m sure that I could never be described as a quick listener. Why is it that you have been neither a good nor quick listener? That is a very good and difficult question. By difficult, I don’t mean that your question is difficult to understand but that my answer is difficult to admit. You can be sure that your answer will come as no great surprise to me. Then I might as well give my answer without any hesitation. I’m sure that you know my answer and the reason I have been both a poor and slow listener. Yes, I do. I have obviously thought that I have much more to add by speaking than by listening. How does that sound to you? It sounds pathetically proud to me. It is difficult and embarrassing to admit that my pride has made me a poor listener. Instead of listening well, I have thought about what I might say next. At times, I have thought so hard about what I might say next that I probably haven’t even heard what has been said to me. How does that sound to you? That sounds obnoxious and annoying. You are quite hard on yourself about your slowness to listen and quickness to speak. Yes, I am. It is appropriate. My listening and speaking skills need to drastically change. Yes, they do.
How do you hope to change as a listener and as a speaker? I would like to listen well. I would like to speak far less. I will like to understand others far better. There is more. There is something else that I have not mentioned. What’s that? Not only have I not listened well and been quick to speak, I have also been quick to become angry. Why is that? I have jumped to conclusions. I have made assumptions. I have been easily offended. I have not carefully and prayerfully considered what others have said to me. My pride has not only led to quick speaking but also to quick anger. That’s not good. No, it’s not. There is one more thing of which I am certain. What’s that? If I am not listening well to others, I am not likely to be listening well to you either. That’s true. What else could you say about slow listening, quick speaking and quick anger? That combination will never result in my living the kind of righteous life that you desire for me. No, it will not. So, I am asking you to change me. Help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. That is my prayer. That is a prayer that I will hear and answer. Thank you, Lord.
Lord, I have not been quick to listen. I have been slow to listen and quick to speak and become angry. I know this is not the kind of life you want me to live. Help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry so I can live a righteous life. Amen
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