Have you ever known someone who was always the “smartest” person in the room? They knew the answer to every question, and were always one of the first to answer? Not trying to doubt their intelligence, but seldom were they actually the “smartest” person in the room on every subject. But it didn’t stop them from believing they were, and offering their opinion. Unfortunately, in our day and age of social media, there are a lot of “smartest” people in the virtual world. I remember when a couple of our children went to a public elementary school. This particular school focused on the “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” as written by Stephen Covey. One of the habits written about in the book was to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Whether or not Mr. Covey knew that this sort of wisdom came from Scripture or not, I don’t know. I don’t know if the school realized it. Either way, they were teaching a great principle. Something that frankly, we all could stand to remember right now, especially in our interactions on social media. James 1:19-20 says, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
One thing that Diana and I try to tell our children, “God gave you two ears and one mouth. Therefore, do twice as much listening as you do talking.” It is easy to say, but sometimes hard to follow. However, it is needed, maybe now more than ever in our nation. With everything going on in our country and then add on top of it many of us are still in some form of a lockdown, you have a recipe for disaster. Then, let’s pile on to that how both political parties are stoking the fires, and now you are sitting on a powder keg just looking for a reason and a place to go off. We have some very real problems in our nation. Problems that will not be solved by violence, rioting, or immediately dismissing someone because you don’t agree with them. What truly needs to happen is that leaders need to get in a room with people who have grievances, sit down, be quiet, and just listen. The only talking that they should do is to ask questions as a follow-up to make sure they are hearing and truly understanding the concerns. As difficult as this may be to hear, sometimes people act out because they feel fed up with not being listened to. No, that isn’t a justification for rioting and looting. However, I have known more than one kid to throw a temper tantrum and do stuff in order to get their parent’s attention. I believe that the church needs to lead the way in modeling reconciliation and dialogue. After all, Paul says that God has given us a ministry of reconciliation. Of course, he is talking about how we are to share the Gospel with the unsaved, so that God can save them, and they can be reconciled to Him. However, Jesus also taught us about reconciliation on a personal basis as well. He said, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave you gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23-24). I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers to the deep-rooted problems in America. However, I am smart enough to look at both sides and say that what we are doing isn’t working; therefore, we better find a different way. Sometimes, what someone truly wants is for someone to just listen. They want to know that someone cares. I can remember early on in Diana and I’s marriage that I would frustrate her a lot. Ok, so I probably still do now that we are 15 years into our married life. One thing that frustrated her the most was how I went about trying to “fix” everything. She would come to me with a problem or a concern, and I immediately went into fix-it mode. The good news is I was able to fix some of the issues. The bad thing is I wasn’t listening to my wife and showing her my love for her. She finally had to just tell me, “I don’t want you to fix everything, I want you to listen to me. I want you to be on my side.” I would like to say that I have fixed that problem, but I’m not a miracle worker, just a work in progress. What could God do in our hearts and in our communities, if pastors or different races sat down and had a genuine conversation about what is going on in their community and in the world. And both sides just listened to the other, and loved their brothers in Christ, and prayed with and for each other? What could happen is churches of different races in the same community did a joint worship service together and shared a meal afterwards (yes socially distanced and with as much precaution as possible)? Would it immediately change the community and the country? Probably not. But it couldn’t hurt. Because again, what we are doing as a nation sure isn’t working right now. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, the same way and expecting different results; I think we are meeting the definition of insanity. The blood of Jesus Christ is a greater uniter than everything that Satan is using to divide us. It’s past time that we show love for one another, and in this case it starts by sitting down, opening our ears, and keeping our mouths closed for the most part. We must listen to each other, because then we might learn that we really aren’t that much different from one another. Who can you show love to today by listening to them?
By His grace and for His glory,