By Dick Koehneke
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for
human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was the perfect listener. Examine the four Gospels. Look closely at his interactions with people. People said many things to Jesus. Sometimes they asked questions of information. Sometimes they made requests for help. On occasion they gave him thanks and praise. Or they made statements, or tried to trick him, or even falsely accused him of wrongdoing. In every case, Jesus responded with exactly what was needed by the other person – not always what they wanted, but always what they needed. He was able to respond to people perfectly, because he really listened to the other person: not only to hear what was being said, but also for the deep meaning behind the words being spoken.
Sometimes he responded with a direct answer, other times with teaching. Often he would ask a question of the other person, or tell a story to make a point. There were times when he spoke words of conviction and confrontation. He always did or said exactly what the other person needed. He was the perfect listener.
He still is! You can go to Jesus with whatever is in your mind or on your heart, and you can be certain that he is listening. You can be sure that he will respond in his perfect will for you, to give you what you really need – not always what you want, but what you really need – not only for right now, but for the future; not only for the future, but for eternity.
As followers and friends of Jesus, powered by his Spirit, our heart’s desire is to be like him. We want to follow his example, walking in his steps on the way to heaven. Here is some wisdom from God’s Word: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)
Have you ever noticed that God gave us two ears but only one mouth? Did you ever wonder what it means that the resting position of the mouth is closed, but that your ears are naturally open? Maybe God is trying to tell us to learn to listen.
Someone has said, “When you’re talking, you’re probably not learning.” We need to listen to learn. Many a pointless argument has begun over a simple misunderstanding of meaning. When the other person says something you don’t like, ask, “What do you mean?” Or you could say, “Why do you say that?” Don’t just respond to what you think they said.
If the other person’s comments are getting you upset, don’t respond out of anger. You might say, “I’m not very comfortable with this conversation.” Maybe you can explain why you’re feeling uncomfortable. Maybe the two of you will agree to suspend that particular conversation until another time. You might agree to switch subjects, and you may even agree to disagree!
I try to remember this little saying: “If you say everything that’s on your mind in a moment of anger, you will probably make the very best speech you will ever live to regret!” We need to get control of our words so that our words build up, not tear down; so that we speak words that create, not destroy; words that heal, not harm. “O Lord, may my words today be sweet and tender, for tomorrow I may have to eat them!”
As we think about the people in our lives, let’s ask God to help us LEARN TO LISTEN and LISTEN TO LEARN, always with Christ-like LOVE in our hearts.