ODJ: eager to listen

October 19, 2015 

READ: James 1:19-21 

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry (v.19).

A young boy and his stepdad had trouble connecting with each other due to the fact that they were complete opposites. The man was outgoing; the boy was reserved. The man loved to get up early to fish; the youngster loved to sleep in and play video games all day.

The stepdad, attempting to bond with the boy, took him on a week-long fishing trip. The boy hated every second of it, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell his stepdad directly. So he wrote him a note saying he wanted to go home. The man took one look at the note, stuck it in his pocket and kept fishing. When they finally returned home days later, the boy complained to his mother about what happened. His mother paused and said to him, “Son, what you don’t realise is that your stepdad can’t read”.

This story shows how communication breaks down when we’re unable to understand what others are saying to us. In most cases, this stems from our struggle to listen.

Perhaps this is one reason why James stressed, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: you must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry” (James 1:19).

Being eager to listen and slow to speak is a willingness to temporarily set aside our desire to be heard so that we can focus on understanding where the other person is coming from. It’s a willingness to hear the other person out without debating or getting defensive.

The Scriptures remind us that “fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions” (Proverbs 18:2). But when we listen and hold our tongues, we not only become less foolish, we also show others that we care about them and their perspectives. We show them the love God shows to us.

—Jeff Olson

365-day-plan: Acts 8:26-40

Check out the value of listening to constructive criticism as found in Proverbs 15:31. 
How well do you listen to others? God patiently listens to our prayers. How does that inspire you to listen to others more intently?