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Quick to Listen & Slow to Speak

Quick to Listen & Slow to Speak

Article by Brian Hughes
Our God is a God who speaks. And this God has made it clear to us that words matter and our tongues have power (James 3:1-12). Over and over in the scriptures, both old and new, we see the exhortations from our God to harness our mouths and how he cautions us about the words we use.

This is such a needed conversation in our current cultural moment because we live in an age where words are easily shared, and opinions are easily known. And while this age, we find ourselves in loves to proclaim the power of words and their consequences, all the while not afraid to quickly speak and offer their “two cents” in any conversation or topic. I think Proverbs 18:13 can describe our current moment, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

We can so quickly begin to give ourselves over to this way of living if we’re not careful as God’s people. We can become more and more conformed to the pattern of this world.

“But that is not the way you learned Christ!” (Ephesians. 4:20).

What if one of the ways Jesus makes us new people is in the way we speak? What if one of the ways that we are made new people is in how we interact with one another? What if one of the ways we image Jesus to a broken world is in our ability to listen rather than speak?

I am preaching to myself in this article in a lot of ways. And the point of this article isn’t to give you the “how-tos” of being better listeners, but more of what being better listeners and humble speakers bring to our world.

Listening Brings Dignity
One of the aspects of Jesus’ interactions with people that astonishes me is how he brought dignity to those he spoke with. I can think of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, the shame and condemnation she must’ve felt coming to draw water alone. And how Jesus, through the way he dialogued and listened to her, brought an outcast dignity. Jesus knew everything about this woman, even the deepest pain and sin in her heart, yet did more listening in the conversation than counseling or preaching. Most of John 4 is the woman speaking, not Jesus. And you can see this in many of Jesus’ interactions, an eagerness to listen first before speaking. Even though he knew he was all-knowing and in the right every single time, he chose to honor and dignify the other person more than himself.

When we choose to be listeners first, longing to hear the other person out before we speak, we bring dignity and honor to a fellow image-bearer.

Even if we totally disagree with what they have to say, think they are morally wrong, or believe our side is more persuasive, listening to them is loving them well.

Listening Adorns the Gospel
In a world that is quick to speak, being a person who actively listens makes the Gospel more attractive. Being a people who are humble enough to lay our opinions aside and hear out those who may have a different opinion than we do imitates who we say we follow. How counter-cultural would it be if we never sought to be the first to speak in a discussion or debate? What if we didn’t have to tweet out our side regarding some issue or hot topic? It shows the watching world that Jesus really is in the business of making people new. It reveals that we take the power of our tongues seriously and choose to honor Jesus with them rather than the world. It makes us radically different.

Let us be a people who are marked by humility, patience, grace, and self-control. What an apologetic to a watching and dying world longing for dignity, hope, and peace.

Brian Hughes

Pastor of CollegeLife
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