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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

Listening and Doing

My dear brothers, take note of this: Every one should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.  
James 1:19
The book of James has some great wisdom concerning personal communication. The book was written around A.D. 50 by James, Jesus’ half-bother. James was a leader in the church at Jerusalem. It is said that James had knees like those of a camel because he spent so much time on them praying.

Our passage for today gives us three rules of personal communication. These rules apply when we speak to family members, spouses, co-workers—to all people.

First, James tells us to be “quick to listen.” There is a difference between hearing and listening. When we listen we make an effort to pay attention to what is being said. It is a matter of concentration. Are you like me? I often miss getting the name of someone when they are introduced to me. Lack of concentration.

We often say to our spouse or to a child, “Are you listening to me?” We all seem to have a tendency to tune people out. When we really listen, we absorb what is being said. Listening requires a response. We apply what we have heard.

Then James tells us that we should be “slow to speak.” God gave us two ears and one mouth. Doesn’t that indicate that we should listen more than we speak? Too much talk can cause a multitude of problems. Once we have spoken words, we cannot get them back. They have already reached the minds and hearts of others.

James goes on to say that we must be “slow to become angry.” Just think of the damage anger and rage cause—broken homes, loss of jobs, even murder. In Proverbs 15:1 we read: A gentle answer turns away wrath.”  Another passage to hide in our hearts is Proverbs 15:18: A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.

Think about the last time you became really angry. Do you think the situation would have been different if you had been quicker to listen and slower to speak?

Georgia Andrus  

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