The Skill of Listening
The Skill of Listening
“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.” James 1:19-20
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone at work, school, church, or at home and feel like they just aren’t caring enough to actually listen to anything you have to say, but then they turn around and have 10 things they want to tell you? Or maybe you’re the one who won’t listen to what someone else has to say.
As an uber driver talking to strangers is just part of the job. Some of the conversations I have with people are really sad though. One guy told me his wife had a few months left to live. Another conversation I had was with two girls that one of them was dating and having sex with a guy that she and the guy didn’t exactly match up faith-wise. He was Jewish and she claimed to be a Christian. I prayed for the man and his wife and I spoke biblical truth to the girls. One thing I did for both of them though was that I listened with my ears and not with my mouth.
A lot of Christian uber drivers play Christian music in their cars. I don’t do that. I don’t want my riders to get in my car and know that I’m a Christian, not because I’m ashamed of my faith, but because I want to know if the rider has faith. Also, if I was to play Christian music in my car, I might have not got the chance to hear about this guy’s wife having a few months left to live and these two girls would have never asked me for my advice on their dating life. The reason is that Christians are known for being very judgemental. This is sad, we should be known for being very kind, caring, and compassionate.
Tool of Listening
Listening is a skill that you have to learn to do. It works by plugging your ears into your heart. People won’t care what you have to say unless first, they know how much you care about what they have to say.
In greek, the word for ‘listen’ is “ἀκοῦσαι” (akousai), it means “ to hear”. This form of the word shows up 17 times in the New Testament. There is nothing big about this word, it just means the same in English as in Greek.
The only thing though is that Listening and Hearing are two different things. We can hear someone speak all day long, but never know what they say, listening is intentionally hearing the heart of the speaker. That is why when it got translated to “Listening”, James is talking about intentionally hearing everything the speaker is saying. We need to be intentional in our relationships with each other.
If you have a wife, which I don’t, I know this from my mom and from doing uber. Women want to talk about everything. Guys if you want to have a great marriage, sit with your wife and let her tell you how her day was. Just sit and listen to everything she has to say. I believe by doing this one act of love, your marriage will be strengthened because your wife will know that you care about her. I learned that secret from driving girls around doing uber.
Tool of Anger
This verse is interesting, “slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires”.
Reading over this verse we might make a sticky note in our mind that says, “Anger is a sin”. We have to read more closely what this verse says, “human anger” or as the greek says, “the anger for of man” or “anger of man”. The reason James says it that way is to point out that there is a Godly Anger. Anger isn’t a sin, but used in the wrong way could produce sin.
If I buy a gun and use it to protect my family against a home burgery and people die, is that murder? No. If I use it to rob someone and in the process, the person I rob is killed with my gun, is that murder? Yes. Anger is like a gun, depending on how you use it, depends on if it is a sin or not.
Connections With Others
Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
Paul is clear, “In your anger do not sin”, anger in itself is NOT sin. It’s not wrong to be angry, but it is wrong to use that anger to wrong someone else.
Paul tells us, “do not give the devil a foothold”. The number one thing that will destroy your ministry, business, relationships, career, etc. towards people around you is human anger that produces sin.
You know it takes a bigger man to walk away from a fight than for one to stay and fight. It’s not worth it. In the end, you’re just going to be more bitter than before and maybe even lose friends and family in the process. Your relationships with other people will suffer.
So in your relationships with other people learn to have an open ear and an open heart. Also, learn to forgive those who hurt you. Most of the time that we are angry with someone else, it’s because they hurt us and we need to forgive them. Forgiving other people of their sins against us will destroy any foothold the devil may try to get us in.
Connection with God
Anger when it leads to hate not only interferes with our connections with others, but also with God.
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Since we are called to be “Like Christ”, well one of those characteristics of being “Like Christ” is to forgive other people. “leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift”. God wants us to fix our relationships with each other before we go and give him worship.
You and I have sinned against God. God came to earth 2000 years ago to be reconciled with us. He is now calling us to be reconciled with each other. God didn’t just want his relationship with people fixed, he wants people to fix their relationship with each other too. Family is more important to God than it is to women.