My dear brothers and sisters, pay attention to what I say. Everyone should be quick to listen. But they should be slow to speak. They should be slow to get angry — James 1:19-20
We live in a world of talk. Talk, talk, talk. Speak, speak, speak. Ours is the age of talk radio (news talk, sports talk, money talk, self-help talk, car talk, I-just-want-to-talk talk), podcasts and cell phones. Everyone, it seems, wants to be heard.
We have become a culture full of talking heads regardless of where we find ourselves. And the chatter is deafening.
Into this noise come the words of James: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak. This exhortation is almost unintelligible to a culture intent on talking. We have it backwards: we are quick to speak, slow to hear.
But God would be the primary voice heard in the universe. He is the One who has much to say. He speaks, in the Bible, of the riches of His mercy in Christ. He broadcasts His forgiveness and love. He heralds the wonder of redemption. He calls us to repent and beckons us to draw near. Am I listening?
Do you remember the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42? Luke offers us a helpful contrast in speaking and listening. Martha was frantically trying to make dinner preparations for Jesus and the disciples. Not surprisingly, Martha gets a bit frustrated at Mary’s lack of effort with the event. So, Martha does what we probably all would do under similar circumstances—she starts talking: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (10:40). We are not left to wonder which course of action Jesus commends. We see it in his gentle rebuke: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Mary was quick to listen and slow to speak. She knew when to be quiet. In a culture full of chatter, I want to learn the discipline of silence so I can hear what the Lord wants to teach me. He’s speaking; am I listening?