“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”James 1:19
It has been said that God gave each of us one mouth and two ears for a reason. We often speak more than we listen, and even when we are listening, we cannot wait to speak. We think of things we want to say instead of actively listening to the person speaking. I have been guilty many times of inserting my foot right into my mouth due to not listening.
At the beginning of each Freedom That Lasts session, we go around the room and express what we are thankful to God for. It is a time to give praise of how God is working in our life throughout the week and a time to be an encouragement to one another. I usually start off this time and can be long-winded, so Rebekah gives me the eye, and then I know it is time to pass the baton.
One particular week, I was thanking God for a weekend of relaxation I was able to take in a city down south in Arizona. I am not particularly fond of this city even though I had a nice time. In my testimony, I was talking about the events of the weekend and how God blessed, but then I joked that I refer to this place as the “armpit of Arizona”. I chuckled at my own joke and a few others followed as well. I was pretty proud of myself but that only lasted 15 minutes or so.
I passed the baton to Rebekah (promptly following her giving me the eye), and we started to go around the room with everybody sharing. There was a new lady who came that night and it was her turn to speak. She stated her name and then said she was visiting from the city I had just referred to as the “armpit of Arizona”. She looked at me with face full of sarcasm as she stated this, and I looked for a hole in the floor to jump into. I thought to myself, “Oh boy, you have done it again.” We had a break after singing, and I went over to introduce myself and apologize. I initially had a hard time speaking due to my size 10 boot in my mouth. I realized I maybe should have listened to where she was from prior to my bold statements, and perhaps I should lay off the bold statements altogether.
I learned a valuable lesson that day, but it is not the first time I have learned a lesson like this. I have been guilty of being swift to speak, swift to wrath and slow to hear – just the opposite of what God’s Word commands. I am learning to listen, but it is something I must work on as it is not natural to do. I have to quiet my mind so that I can actively listen instead of thinking of something witty to say.
Where are you today friend? Do you actively listen when God speaks or do you interrupt Him with “but…” and “why”? Are you listening twice a much as you are speaking? Are you reading the Word? Listening to God will make you slow to wrath, and will drastically change the decisions you make. Will you be swift to hear and slow to speak and slow to wrath? May we listen more than we speak, and may our actions prove it.