“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;”
James 1:19 NKJV
I am glad that God’s ways are not my ways.
Far too often I find myself on the cusp of saying things that I would regret. On my best days in the flesh wrath was not far from my lips and I frequently let the most venomous poison pour from my mouth. I know how to hurt people with a comment. I think the ability came from all the hurt I had endured. Hurt people hurt people.
The greatest change in me has been God’s taming of my tongue. It is an ongoing process that will likely continue till the end of my life. It will always be tough, though. So often I listen to people and I have this little tickle in the back of my throat that is a comment forming. Or I have to stifle an opinion that might be less than edifying.
We live in a world where people are so quick to state what they think. Few are willing to listen. So many conflicts can be avoided by simply listening.
I have found that there is great power in listening to the lost. I am able to hear the damage that sin has brought to them, and the hopelessness that drives them to do the things they do. Our tendency as believers is to not listen, to not take the time to open hearts to the struggles. I think many of us have forgotten what it is like to be lost.
We are all too often willing to speak. No one wants to be preached at, especially by someone who cares so little as to not listen. In order to speak truth into someone’s life, you must show them that you love them. Listening is a profound expression of love.
Listening can be hard too. Taking criticism from a loved one, not reacting to a slight delivered by someone in pain, or simply listening to an elderly person telling the same story for the tenth time. It can be a sacrifice made in love and more profound than we can imagine.
Then there are those times when offense is aimed squarely at you. I have found that people under conviction of the Holy Spirit strike out at those in whom He resides. I have had moments when I sought to share the Gospel and have been attacked for my trouble. The worst thing I could do is to strike back. Often the angry reaction is what they are looking for, so they can reject all that you stand for. Far be it from me to win the argument but lose the soul.
I remind myself that I am an ambassador of Jesus Christ. I take the hit and return love. Thank God for His Holy Spirit.
Lord guide me, open my ears and my heart to hear the heart cry of those who desperately need you.
Guide my tongue and temper my heart. May I open my mouth and speak your truth with your Spirit and your love. Amen.