Hey Church Family!
This week we launched a brand new series just in time for the family get togethers and the holiday season. We looked at what it means to be quick to listen and slow to speak. We even offered some simple hand gestures to go along with it. I know I've found myself repeating the phrase, "Quick to listen, slooooow to speak" along with the hand gestures more than once already this week. I hope you have too.
We all have this basic truth about us: we all want to be heard and to be understood. We want people to agree with us, like us, and nod their heads with us. We like it when people listen to us. The problem is, we don't always want to extend the same courtesy to others. We want people to listen to us, but we don't always want to listen to other people. We also love to show and tell how right we are. After all, my way of thinking, living, and following Jesus is best, right? But when we don't get our way or when people refuse to listen to us, we get frustrated. We get angry. We have an emotional response to a perceived wrong. And in our anger we can quickly do a lot of damage to relationships. Most likely, you've caused hurt in a relationship because you wanted to win an argument. I know I have. But when you win an argument, it often comes at a cost—you lose a little bit of the relationship.
So James—the brother of Jesus—in a letter to first-century Christians writes, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry" (James 1:19). Then he tells us why: "This is because an angry person doesn't produce God's righteousness" (James 1:20). In other words, he's saying that your desire to be right, to be understood, to be heard—never leads you to the place God wants you. Your 'rightness' is not what God desires. James is saying, "You want to be right at each other. But God wants you to be right with each other." And there's a big difference!
Being right at someone means "I'm right. You're wrong. And there's nothing more to talk about." Being right at someone says I'm smarter than you. Being right at someone communicates that you don't have any slice of the truth, only I do.
However, being right with someone says, "I'm right, but let's talk about this. Why do you believe what you believe? Why do you do what you do? Why do you say those things?" Being right with someone says we're both smart and intelligent. Being right with someone communicates that we both see life from different places, but let's journey together to see God's truth.
In other words, it really doesn't matter who's right if you're not right with one another.
This is the posture God took towards us in Christ. Jesus didn't come to be right. That would have taken about 3 seconds. And it wouldn't have ended with him dying on the cross—it would have ended with him condemning us to what we deserved for being dead wrong. But thanks be to God! He didn't come to be right at us, he came to be right with us. Jesus came to reconcile us back to God and to one another. And now he asks us to do follow the example of our Lord and Savior.
How do we do that? It's simple. Be quick to listen and slow to speak.
May God grant you quick ears and a slow speech this week.
Together in Christ,
Notes from the Staff @The Woods