“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).
While I was stopped at a red light this week, another car beside me kept easing past the designated white line. He ducked down to read the light of the crossing traffic to time the light change. As soon as the crossing traffic light turned red, he tapped his accelerator. Unfortunately, the oncoming turn lane became green as our light stubbornly remained red. He had to brake well into the intersection. And he looked foolish doing it.
We are not natural listeners. We are quick to speak and quick to judge. When someone has a problem, we talk to fix it. When things aren’t going the way we want, we speak quickly to let others know it. Our hearts explode through our mouths to make certain our preferences and ideas are met. We jump out in front, and often look foolish doing it. But the new creature in Christ is commanded to use the new heart Jesus gave us.
It takes a great deal of humility to be quick to listen. Before speaking, we are to value the person and listen to their words. We listen to gain understanding, yielding because we desire a genuine relationship with someone else speaking. We listen so we provide a biblical, thoughtful, and loving response. This means our first desire in conversations is to possess a patient humility. Why? Because love is patient (I Corinthians 13:4). Our natural reaction is not humble patience.
We are not commanded to NOT respond, just to be patient in our response. Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Our temper is to be crushed by a humble, patient love. We have a thoughtful, biblical response to be delivered out of true loving care for others. We possess a tongue to proclaim Jesus in His Word, and His Word pierces (Hebrews 4:12), and His Word heals (Psalm 107:20). In other words, the Bible does the work. Not our sinful hearts which complain when our preferences aren’t met, or rebukes sharply when we don’t get what we want, or refuses to listen because of selfish indifference. We are called to have loving hearts patiently humble to listen, giving a clear, biblical response of God’s grace.
Lord, be gracious to us and give us humble, patient hearts to listen and use our mouths to proclaim the truth of Your glory. Amen.