“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” vss. 19-20
According to James those who are followers of Jesus are a kind of first fruits of God’s creatures. We have been given the power to live as God intends, a template of righteous living for others to emulate. James indicates that as God’s righteous ones the first thing for us to do is to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Of course James isn’t the first to hold up the virtues of listening…nor was he the last. It’s one of those bits of wisdom that has permeated the culture…yet few have learned to do it well. It should be easy to keep our mouths shut and our ears open but it’s notoriously difficult. Really, there’s no greater gift that we can give another person than our respectful attention to what they’re saying. Often our reflective listening will ease stress and calm anxiety…and it’s the first step in healing a broken relationship. Especially if we don’t allow what has been said fuel an angry response! James mentions that too…we should be slow to anger, for anger undermines righteousness and accelerates brokenness. In the current political climate some have found it difficult to listen and easy to become angry. Perhaps it’s time we stepped away from our rancorous and divisive assertions and simply keep our mouths shut. Ugly responses, no matter how clever, only drive us apart and have no value in the kingdom of God.
Thought for the Day: What makes a person a good listener?