You must understand this, my beloved; let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak… (James 1:19)
Some months ago, I was picked to serve on a jury. The crime involved domestic abuse. It was a tense trial, and the testimonies greatly impacted all the jury members.
Immediately after the trial, we were ushered into the jury room. The bailiff informed us that we needed to pick a jury captain, and I was chosen. When the bailiff left, pandemonium erupted. Some felt she was a victim. Others felt that she had “asked” for it. The comments quickly got ugly and personal.
As the jury captain, I loudly said, “Stop. We can’t carry on this way. We must make a serious decision. The only way we can do so is by respectfully listening to each other. So, each person is going to tell us what they think, and the rest of us will quietly listen. After we have done one round, I will figure out how we’ll proceed.”
Amazingly, the people followed these instructions, and they carefully listened to each other. Although the judge had told us that we might need to cancel the next few days, we came to a consensus by the end of the first day.
After we had returned to the courtroom and shared our verdict, the judge asked us to return to the jury room. Soon afterward, the judge came in and said, “You all did great work. How did that happen so quickly?”
The guy who had been the most difficult to corral said, “Well, we just listened to each other, and every time we didn’t, the captain brought us back.” He went on to say, “I learned some things today that I’m going to take home.”
Today’s scripture encourages us to be “quick to listen” and “slow to speak.” Studies show that we’re listening less and less to each other. When we’re truly listening to someone else, we suspend judgments, stop formulating our responses, refrain from interrupting, and resist multitasking so that we can really hear and take in what someone else is saying.
Is there someone we need to listen to right now? If so, I encourage us to give them our ears and our heart.
- Unlike today’s admonition from scripture, are you sometimes quick to speak and slow to listen? If so, how come?
- Is there someone right now in your life you need to listen to for their sake, for your sake, and for the sake of the relationship? If so, when will you do so?
- Are you listening to what Jesus might be saying to you? If you aren’t hearing anything, is that because He isn’t speaking or because you aren’t listening? And if you aren’t listening, is that because you don’t want to hear what He has to say?