James 1:19: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
We are going to spend three blog posts on this verse.
What does it mean to be “quick to listen”? Simply put it is to hear with intention. So often, when we are talking with people, we are listening to respond or listening to defend. We have lost the ability to listen with intention, or to actively listen. I am convinced that everyone needs to learn this skill. Often in Scripture, we hear this refrain: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear…” Did you know that Christ is the only one in Scripture to say this!
This prompts the question: Who do we listen to? The obvious answer is anyone who is talking to us. However, there are other “voices” or “influences” in our lives that we need to prioritize. The number one source we should be listening to is God. We primarily hear God’s voice through reading the Bible. We believe the Bible is God’s only written communication of Himself and His plans and purposes for mankind. Therefore, we will believe its promises, obey its commands, and apply its principles.
What prevents us from listening to God? We are so busy, we don’t make time to slow down and listen to God, especially when going through trials or temptations. When I was a kid, I received a pair of Walkie-Talkie’s for Christmas. I was so excited because I had a friend that lived a few doors down that I wanted to talk to all the time, and now we could! This was before cell phones and text messaging. However, what I noticed about the Walkie-Talkie’s was that we both couldn’t talk at the same time. One of us had to listen! The same is true in prayer and Bible reading. We have to be quiet long enough to hear the voice of God.
There are many consequences if we are not quick to listen. First, we may miss out on eternal life if we don’t listen to the voice of God. When the Holy Spirit convinces you of your sin and need for a savior, will you listen? Second, we could miss being used by God and blessed by Him if you don’t listen to the voice of God. In 1 Samuel 3:1-10; God calls Samuel three times. Samuel does not know how to discern the voice of God, but his mentor does. So after receiving instruction, Samuel ends by saying, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Some questions to consider:
Are you listening to God or talking at Him?
When was the last time you were able to be quiet and listen?
What “voices” have you allowed to drown out the voice of God?
One of the best books I have read on listening in human relationships is “Why Don’t We Listen Better?” by James C. Peterson. You can purchase it here.