Quick to Listen, Slow to Respond

Quick is not a word associated with spiritual development. Most of the uses of the word quick in the Bible are negative and connected to our anger. There is one place that breaks the rules, and it is in the book of James. He writes in chapter one, verse nineteen, that each one of us should be “Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

This one piece of instruction could be the single best advice that everyone, especially in 2020, needs to follow. Everyone, including Christians, seems to be quick to respond, and it is often with anger or fear. We hear a story or see a thirty-second video clip, and immediately we take to our platform and let everyone know our thoughts. For many people, that platform is social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, and a few other ways allow us to vocalize our thoughts within moments of some seemingly big event.

Unfortunately, we are wrong so often. Later we find out that the video was edited, the scenes before and after were omitted on purpose, the story we heard or read was only half true. Because we did not take the time to carefully listen before we responded, our thoughts do damage.

James tells us, be quick to listen and slow to speak. Tell yourself; it is okay to not respond to an incident no matter how big it seems for at least 48 hours. Take the time to ask questions, read multiple viewpoints, do research, and, most importantly, remove the emotions to see the facts. Anger blinds us to truth and causes us to say things that harmful in ways we do not understand.

Significant events are coming. What we are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. I am not saying that the followers of Jesus need to remain silent forever. This is not a plea for us to dial down our faith in the public arena. Instead, this is a request that we place listening as the highest priority on our list of actions and let our words come slowly from a place of thought rather than emotions. Quick tempters are destructive and quick listeners are constructive. No one was ever hurt by listening too intently.

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