Going along with our series on “Taming the Tongue”…
James, thought to be the brother of Jesus, wrote, “…Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19). Oh my, if only I could get down just this one verse in the Bible, my whole life would change! Wouldn’t yours?
A “listening tongue” is a tongue that holds its peace long enough for the two ears that God gave us to listen to the one speaking.
Mike and I went to a memorial service of a man named Jan a while back, who died from cancer at a pretty young age. We didn’t know him, but went to the service in honor of his sister with whom we are good friends. The thing that blew us away was the number of people who commented on Jan’s listening ear! One man felt compelled to leave his seat and go up to the front of the chapel. He got on the stairs to demonstrate Jan’s body posture as a listener. He said, “Jan would hunker down, like this. Then, he would lean forward on an elbow, look me in they eyes, and say, ‘So what’s on your mind, brother?’ ”
And then Jan would actively and intentionally listen. And person after person testified of the same thing concerning Jan. Why? Because listening is so very, very rare.
We live in an interrupting society. Everything has to be fast. If the person speaking to us doesn’t say what is on his or her mind fast enough, we might finish their sentence, or worse yet, give an answer before we understand what the person is saying. Solomon, in the book of Proverbs addressed that kind of person, “If someone gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Proverbs 18:13). That’s pretty clear!
Haven’t you noticed that when someone listens, really listens, to you, that your soul finds a kind of peace and well being? It’s like, “Someone in this world cares enough to practice slow listening, without being in a hurry to finish my sentence or to judge what I’m saying before they understand me.”
May God give us a “listening tongue” and two caring, listening ears. It would surely make us sparkle in the eyes of the one who is speaking!