James 1:19 NLT
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
I’m not always that good at this. And isn’t it that we know this, that we have heard this, but that we don’t understand it and apply it effectively and consistently in our lives?
When I don’t listen, isn’t it because I think that I know enough already? Isn’t it that I value what I already know more than I value any wisdom that might be shared with me? Oh, I am so blinded by foolish pride at times!
Especially when dealing with issues within my own family, where I am trying to lead us in new directions, don’t I forget the importance of listening? Don’t I encounter opposition and immediately go into self defense mode instead of listening, hearing, considering, and discerning wisdom?
Doesn’t leading start with serving? With being an example of what followers want to be, so that they see our light and naturally want to gather and participate? True leadership isn’t lording our titles and positions of authority over others, it isn’t beating others into servitude, it is leading by example.
So even when voices of opposition are raised, a wise man listens to the accusations brought forth. A wise man weighs what evidence is given. A wise man uses just and fair scales to examine in order to determine the Truth, not just what supports his own preconceived ideas and notions.
This is because a wise man does not trust in his own understanding as having yet been fully perfected. A wise man looks for opportunities to continue learning and growing in his understanding of truth. A wise man understands that truth is not necessarily found in the yearnings and desires of his own deceitful heart, but is found in listening and discerning consideration from a place of fearful reverence of the Lord.
Do you see that last part? Is pretty important. Fearful reverence of the Lord.
You see, if we let ourselves sit upon the throne of our lives, our moral relativity can lead us down all kinds of paths that seem right, but that lead to destruction. Our hearts will play tricks with our minds, and we will end up twisted and bent in all kinds of uncomfortable contortions of logic and justification. And this is pride and vanity.
But if we understand our position under the authority of our Lord and Savior, if we don’t just know this and repeat it as fact, but we believe it – if we understand it to be true to the point that this belief drives our moment to moment decisions, it changes the perspective completely. Sometimes I need to bring this into remembrance.
If I remember this, doesn’t it humble me and give me pause? Doesn’t it encourage me too listen? And not just listen to others, but to take time to listen, really listen in my prayers? Who else can offer us true wise counsel than the Lord?
Do I find myself in a hurry to speak, but forgetting to listen? Have I made myself so important that I don’t have time to listen to others, that I don’t have time to listen to Almighty God?
Have I let the distractions of this world become so important that they are idols that consume my time and passion and desires, leaving me with little or nothing to bring to the altar of Almighty God?
Tell me it isn’t so, Lord.
But don’t the examples of our lives speak to what we truly value most? Don’t our bank accounts scream out and proclaim what is most valued in our lives? Doesn’t the calendar of our days activities testify to what is truly valued and desired in our lives?
Your words humble me, Lord, by the truth of my actions – by the evidence of my hearts desires and passions.
Destroy these idols, Lord. Cast them out of our lives. Make it clear to us that you are our one and only God. Renew us, heal us, redeem us, and sanctify us for your Holy use.
Let us hear your Word, and let it be manifest in our life today.