Have you ever gotten into a conversation or been in a situation that is absolutely frustrating? Have you ever been around someone who knows everything, or at least pretends to? Many times these situations lead us to speak first, think second. I must confess that many times my mouth is 100 miles down the road before my mind even shifts out of neutral. One such example from my marriage may provide you with a good laugh. My wife and I were traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway one evening. I had a pretty stressful and frustrating day and was thinking about that as my wife was speaking (guys a little marriage advice, listen to your wife when she speaks). Now because I was not paying attention I cannot refute her version of the story (but that doesn’t stop me from denying it). She says that she told me that she loved me and that she didn’t deserve a guy like me. That is not what I heard, but my response was “I couldn’t agree with you more.” Diana busts out laughing and I get indignant with her and says “I am pouring out my heart to you and you are laughing at me.” I was thoroughly convinced that I was in the right here and I was getting angry. It is then that she repeats what she said to me, and it was at this point I knew two things needed to happen. First I needed to ask for her forgiveness for getting upset with her. Secondly, I needed to find a 24 hour florist and quickly 🙂 Everyone (except me) gets a great laugh out of that story and it certainly is not the only time I made a fool of myself by speaking before thinking. But how many times have we gotten upset about something that we didn’t fully understand?
James 1:19-20 reminds us, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” God gave us two ears and one mouth. That tells me that we should do twice as much listening as we do talking. We may not agree with others on certain things, but one thing is for sure, arguing with them is not going to win them over. As hard as it is at times, we need to sit down with the person and hear their entire story and reasoning before making up our mind. You may find that you have the same goal just a different way of approaching it. Sometimes you may actually have to agree to disagree but at least you will not have started a war of words that was completely unnecessary.
So if we are going to be swift to hear, we need to allow the person to say what they have to say without interruptions. To be slow to speak, again here the person out and only after they are done should we respond. And for the sake of the Gospel and relationships, don’t jump to anger, make sure you have all the story and all of the facts. Remembering to do twice as much listening as talking will preserve and strengthen your relationships with people, and cause you to have to call the florist much less!