Quick To Be Slow

Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…   James 1.19
We were taught as children: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.  So not true.  Words have hurt me.  Even more so, I learned how I could hurt somebody else with my words.  Later in life I also learned spoken words cannot be taken back - it’s like trying to put toothpaste back into the tube.  However, damaging words are not merely spoken or written down these days.  They can be put out on the internet for everyone in the world to see.

Imagine all your words, written and spoken, or even though, just floating in space and anyone can see them, or read them, or download them, and then use them against you.
For the early church and beyond, for those who have read or heard the words of James, and perhaps more importantly for us today, the words of James 1.19 are to be heeded.
Be quick to listen, and slow to speak, and slow to be angry.
Sometimes – ok, most times – we operate in the opposite direction.  We are quick to be angry, quick to speak, and slow to hear, or to really listen.  Sometimes we are not even really listening.  While the words are coming out of the someone’s mouth, I can literally sense myself coming up with an answer, a defense, an excuse – I have stopped listening.

I am discovering that my default is often to defend myself – protect myself – it seems like second nature.  Sometimes that is a good default button.  It’s why I duck and cover when a bee flies around my head.  However, in order to have healthy conversations, even uncomfortable conversations, and critical conversations, my default needs to be leaning fully into what the other person is saying, listening to their perspective, hear their story, and trust that God will protect and guard my heart, soul and mind.  I also need to ask God to be reflected in my physical position, the look on my face, my posture, for my physical presentation can often speak louder than words.

What we need today in the church, in the family, in relationships in the community is a greater ability and discipline to listen before we react or respond.  And, when I say listen, I mean to be sure we understand what the other person is saying, why they are saying it, where it comes from, and even validate what they are expressing, whether or not we can fully agree with them.  We may not agree with them, but it doesn’t mean that what they are sharing, what they are feeling, what they are expressing is not valid: it is their perspective, their story, their experience, and yes, their opinion.  PEOPLE WANT TO BE HEARD.

We may have to agree to disagree – but we also make room for grace and peace and mercy and love in the middle of it all – otherwise the damage can be irreversible.
Let’s not make assumptions about anyone - Let us lend an ear to their voice

 Let us hear their story – Let us listen to their side of things.

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Rinda Mills - June 11th, 2020 at 3:49pm

I so agree Bill, during this time with all that’s happening we really need to listen to each other!

Pat Henle - June 11th, 2020 at 10:50pm

Amen. This is something I have to be careful of. I try to use think. T is it true, H is it hurtful, I is it interesting, N is it necessary, K is it kind.

Don Stuber - June 12th, 2020 at 11:37pm

Jesus was always asking questions and then listening... seeing to the heart.

Cathy simons - June 13th, 2020 at 9:10am

Such wise words pastor Bill. With such inflammatory situations in our town, state, and the United States, our first reactions to what is going on would help if we could Control our reactions. For me it’s hard to listen when I let my emotions control me. How will anyone succeed at listening if we can’t first control our mind and emotions? We hear something, react to it, and then Spew it. A challenge for all of us to control our thoughts and emotions.