Stop for just one minute. Stop and listen. I’ve got something to say. Let me say it another way, will you shut up and listen?
Think about this. The next time you’re talking to someone, what would happen if you took the lead to listen first before talking. To be clear, I’m not talking about playing stare-out (“HA, you blinked!”) but I’m talking about when we get into discussions with others. Do you listen first or talk first?
My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. James 1:19 (CEV)
Fully engaged listening.
No forming thoughts.
I absolutely love how The Message says it.
Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. James 1:19 (MSG)
Then when you think “okay it’s my turn to talk”, do so slowly and carefully. The funny thing – if you’re really, really, really listening to the other person, you may end up not have anything to say.
Unfortunately, I think the world, and let’s be very honest, you and me, read this verse this way: “Be first to talk. Don’t listen to anyone. Justify your anger toward someone else.”
Of course that’s not at all what James wrote or God expects. Can it be hard to live out this verse? Yes, but mainly because we have the deep desire to be first which means we put others second. If we’re having a “discussion” and I’m talking over you – shouting or whispering – I’m not listening to you at all. In fact, I’ve elevated my thoughts over yours thus I must talk more, talk more loudly and basically stop listening to anything you may have to say.
Imagine what our world would sound like, if we started living out this verse with everyone. Family. Friends. Strangers. And yes, enemies. It’s a staggering verse that evidently is doable just like every other verse in God’s word.
Read “Words Matter” for more.
My challenge – when you wake up tomorrow, ask God to give you the ears to listen first and also let you know if you even need to say anything at all. And since you’ll have God’s attention, ask to speak with words of love. I believe if you really want this, God will give you the way to do it.