Clinton church of Christ

Swift to Hear

February 7, 2011

John Allan

James 1:19 gives us the ingredients for communicating with others: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (NKJV).

James’ recipe has just three parts. Consider them briefly:

Part #1: Be swift to hear.

How many problems are created because somebody failed to listen properly? I do not have any idea, but I am certain the number is astronomical. It takes training to listen carefully and even more determination to want to listen carefully.

Could you imagine if a boss ordered their employee to place an order for seventeen items but the employee did not listen closely and heard “seventy”! Is listening closely important? Absolutely!

If we do not listen carefully we might miss something important, and that could make all the difference. Many arguments would never start and much grief would be avoided if we made it a point to take the time to listen.

Part #2: Be slow to speak.

Sometimes our failure to be slow to speak is the same reason we are not swift to hear: we want so badly to say something that we do not pay attention to what is being said to us. We are just waiting for them to close their mouth so that we can open ours. This is a good way to start an argument but a bad way to communicate.

At other times we are not slow to speak because we do not take the time process what we have heard. Have you ever been pressured to make a decision quickly and later regretted the decision that you made? A little more time would have been helpful!

One danger of speaking too quickly is that by doing so you might speak before you have all the facts on the matter. It is better to be patient than to have to make a retraction later.

Over the years I have written on many topics and communicated with many people. I have made it a personal policy on some matters to force myself to wait 24 hours to comment. Particularly in heated issues we do well to breathe and give our mind time to make sense of what is going on.

It should also be noted that sometimes the best response to a particular matter might be to keep your mouth closed. Something that had your blood boiling and demanded a response one day might not be as infuriating once you have had time to consider it with a calm mind. Even if it does still demand a response you will be able to reply more sensibly.

It is worth the wait.

Part #3: Be slow to wrath.

If you cannot do the first two ingredients then you will probably wind up missing the third, too. If you do not pay attention to what somebody is saying to you and then throw out your remarks with haste then the odds are good that you will soon have a full-blown argument on your hands.

Some folks like to argue. They enjoy being angry and making others angry, too. This is not in keeping with James 1:19.

How are you at communicating? Do you listen well? Do you think before you speak? If you do both of those things you will spare yourself a lot of anger and frustration. While the three parts we have considered are helpful in any communication they are particularly helpful to keep in mind during intense and heated moments.

It has been said that he who keeps his tongue keeps his soul. The way we communicate is important to God. Strive to do so in a way that meets with His approval.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 7th, 2011 at 3:01 pm and is filed under Bible, Morals.

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