Have you ever watched one of those news programs where guests with opposing viewpoints are asked their opinion?  They seem to always end up in a “shout-fest” with the moderator becoming a referee. 

It’s similar to those “dating” and “relationship” reality shows which become a finger-pointing, screaming, blame-game confrontation.  It’s surprising (to some extent) that people would want to highlight their deficient communication “skills” for the entire world to see.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite passages in the Bible, James 1:19 (NIV), “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”  My desire is to live out these character traits and at first glance this verse doesn’t seem too difficult to follow; however, I often find myself missing the mark.

In a three-part series we’ll go deeper in looking at how being “quick to listen,” “slow to speak,” and “slow to become angry” can directly affect our relationships—now and in the future. 

I love how James serves us this edict. …

First, he tells us to “take note of this.”  Other Bible versions translate this to mean, “you must understand this,” “know this,” and “remember this.”  He’s not simply suggesting that we do these things, he’s commanding it.

Secondly, James specifically says this is for everyone.  It’s not just for Jews, Gentiles, or a specific group of people, but for everyone.  When the Bible says everyone should, it is probably something we need to “take note of.”

Quick to Listen
 
“Listening is such a simple act.  It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else.  We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise.  We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.”
—Margaret J. Wheatley, management consultant

Listening, in and of itself, may seem to be a simple act, but it does takes practice.  Why should we become quick to listen?  Three reasons stand out to me—understanding, learning, and remembering.

Understanding

According to Merriam-Webster.com, quick means “capable of acting with speed, readiness” and listen means “to hear something with thoughtful attention.”  So, being “quick to listen,” is being “capable of acting with speed in hearing something with thoughtful attention.”

How often do we do that?  In our age of technology, we are trained to be quick to answer, quick to receive, quick to desire, but rarely “quick to listen.”  E-mails, text messages, and instant chat rooms have all decreased our need to be good listeners.

Even electronically, it’s easy to get into trouble for replying to e-mails without thoroughly reading (or understanding) them.  Many times I have been in such a hurry to respond or return an answer that I have misunderstood what was being asked.

Philip was a great example of someone who listened and understood.

 “An angel of the Lord said to him, ‘Go south down the desert road …’  So he did …” Acts 8:26 (NLT).

 “The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’  Then Philip ran up to the chariot …” Acts 8:29(NIV).