“Let every man be swift to hear, and slow to speak” (James 1:19).
On more than one occasion Jesus reprimanded His disciples for their dullness of hearing and slowness of heart. “Can’t you understand?” He asked them. “Is your heart too hard to take it in? Your eyes are to see with – why don’t you look? Why don’t you open your ears and listen? Don’t you remember anything at all?” (Mark 8:17-18, Living Bible).
The apostle James was moved of God to write in his epistle to the early Christians this familiar charge, “Let every man be swift to hear, and slow to speak” (James 1:19).
And it is still the same today as it was with the first disciples in Galilee. A stupor lingers in the hearts of many believers, blocking their discernment and appreciation of spiritual things. As a result more than a few are slow to listen to the word of the Lord.
The hectic pace of our modern world seems to have made listening a lost art and replaced it with “much ado about nothing.”
Take note of the next conversation you have and see how much of it consists of you actually listening to what the other has to say. Go a step further and watch individuals as they are absorbed in conversation. It should not surprise you to find that the majority of people would rather hear themselves than to contemplate what another has to say.
Indeed, as some wise guy said, “to entertain some people all one needs to do is listen!”
Permit me to slightly alter a familiar nursery rhyme: “Old Mac Donald loved to hear the sound of his own words, and if he ever caught your ear that’s all you ever heard! With a yak-yak here, and a yak-yak there. Here a yak, there, yak, everywhere a yak yak…..!” Now, repeat the verse over and over and over again, and multiply it by 1000. The sound you will come up with is the noise that fills the air each day as we engage in the cacophony of food-court conversations.
The real problem is that not only do we seldom listen to one another, but even less do we listen to God. Someone cleverly observed that God gave man two ears and one mouth that he might listen twice as much as he speaks. What a great idea.
May Samuel’s childlike prayer become my own, even unto my aging years, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant is listening.”