My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)
These words from James remind us of the critical importance of self-control in the life of the saints of God, especially as it relates to the words we use. Later in his epistle, James goes on to say this about the tongue:
The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. (James 3:5-6)
This three-part series about kingdom living is about three keys to living, not just a self-controlled life, but more specifically a “Savior-controlled” life. Throughout this week we will take a brief look at each of these three keys individually, with the goal of being able to demonstrate increasing Savior-control in the areas of life that matter most.
KEY # 1 – Be quick to listen!
Have you ever wondered why the Spirit of God moved James to instruct us to be “quick to listen?” The answer, of course, is that we are often very slow to listen, both to God and to others. Most of us talk way too much and listen way too little. And when we do this to other people, we send an unmistakable message that we believe that what we have to say is far more important than what they have to say.
This advice to “be quick to listen” is good advice for everyone, everywhere, and at all times.
- Corporations must listen to their clients
- Businesses must listen to their customers
- Organizations must listen to their employees
- Players must listen to their coaches
- Students must listen to their teachers
- Children must listen to their parents & parents must listen to their children
- Husbands must listen to their wives & wives must listen to their husbands
This list could easily be expanded to fill pages. Being quick to listen shouts to the person speaking, “I CARE ABOUT YOU AND WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!” Every Christian is called to witness for Jesus and a good witness is a good listener. Only those who have mastered the skill of listening well will be able to discern the needs of others, and therefore be able to minister more effectively.
Entire books have been written about the critical importance of listening to God; I will give you just one verse from Scripture here. Speaking to Christians everywhere, our Lord says this:
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
If we expect to enjoy fellowship with our heavenly Father, we must be quick to listen to His Word to us. As Peter confessed to Jesus, “You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). We must be quick to listen to others in order to build strong horizontal relationships with them, but we must be even quicker to listen to the Word of God, in order to grow in our life-giving vertical relationship with our Redeemer.
So . . . on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your ability to be quick to listen? How would those closest to you rate you? The first key to kingdom living unlocks the door leading to listening well, both to God and to others.
Next we will take a look at the second key: slow to speak.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!