Finish Strong: Week 3 – Listen With Humility

It’s that time of the week again where we recap the discussion we had at the Venue. I want to encourage you to not only read the post, but start a discussion in the comments section either on this post or in the Venue’s Facebook group.  And if you’re just joining us now, you can always catch up by clicking the links below.

James 1:1-12 (Facing Trials with Joy)
James 1:13-18 (Overcoming Sin)

James 1:19-27 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

We all have moments where we lash out. My coworker asked me how to do something and I’ve already told her a million times. My spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend didn’t do that thing that I asked them and now our plans are ruined. My friend cancelled plans again. My kid won’t stop whining and crying and throwing a fit. My parents have ridiculous rules and still treating me like a child. I CAN’T TAKE IT.

I get it. We lash out or someone is talking to us and we cut them off. Daniel reminded us that even though the verse says to be “slow to become angry” it does not mean we can’t be angry. You need to be conscious of your actions and reactions when you feel angry. Ephesians 4:26 says, “in your anger, do not sin.” Yes, you do need to be able to speak and able to express yourself. But pushing every emotion down until one day you snap, is very dangerous for your heart and your relationships.

Learning to control our anger and express it in a safe environment, is a huge step into learning to become slow to speak. Being quick to speak, even if what you’re saying is right, still has the potential to hurt someone. Your tone and presentation have just as much power as the words you speak.

It’s extremely important to become a good listener. Kara said that “listening because we care is the most important. It’s showing someone that they are worth your time, something you can’t get back, and are valuable.” I believe that this goes so far with every person you encounter. If you have something to say and someone else is speaking, is it life or death? Is it really so important that you have to be rude and interrupt? I would say 99.95% the answer to that is no.

During our discussion, everyone seemed to agree that the reason why we interrupt is usually either one of two things: either we think we know it all or we just want to be heard. We have this idea that our opinion is the most important. I believe that social media amplifies this belief that everyone wants to know what we’re eating at every meal, how we feel about local events, the news, cat videos, recipe videos, etc. And while yes, your thoughts and opinions are important, they are not more important that someone else’s.

So how do we go about controlling our tongue? It starts with our attitude. Verse 21 says to “humbly accept the Word” other versions mention being meek. You need to have a teachable spirit. Once you accept and own up to your humanity, you have the power to change. No one expects you to have it all, know it all, or do it all. Once you step off your pedestal and take on a humble attitude, you will find it much easier to listen.

If you are still having trouble listening, try to really focus on what the person is saying, ask questions, or repeat back what they said. These things are great tools for showing someone that you care. Listening without interrupting does not mean you won’t talk, but when you listen to others, you make people feel validated and in appreciation, they will give you the time to speak.

A humble and teachable attitude is not only important when it comes to our relationship with others but with God as well. Has God been trying to address something in your life and you’re continually interrupting Him? Are you hearing what He is telling you but not acting on it? Is your perspective twisted in a way that you somehow think what you have to say is more important than what God is saying?

Take some time today and ask God if there are any areas (or people) that you aren’t listening to and then ask God to help you respond properly. I hope this was a blessing to you and we will see you next week!