Be Slow To Speak

"Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." James 1:19 (NLT)

When you're trying to reconcile with someone, don't listen for the problem or the issue. Listen for the hurt beneath their complaint, their issue, or their anger.

Hurt people hurt people. Healthy people don't hurt other people. Holy people don't hurt other people. Happy people don't hurt other people. It doesn't matter whether you're talking about marriage or the market place or the Middle East. When people are hurting, they lash out at others.

People around the world are dying for respect. When you treat people with dignity, the anger dissipates quickly, whether it's with nations or businesses or churches or ethnic groups or your own family. You treat people with respect.

What is the greatest way to show people respect? Listen to them, and look them in the eye. In a peace conference, you need to stop and listen to what's beneath the words they're saying. What is the hurt they're expressing?

James 1:19 tells us how to do this: "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry" (NLT). God gave you two ears and one mouth. He wants you to listen twice as much as you speak. But we get in a hurry. What you need to do is try to understand the perspective of other people. Don't just look at the situation from your point of view. St. Francis of Assisi said, "Seek to understand before seeking to be understood."

You're going to have a hundred chances this week to put this verse into practice. Don't miss an opportunity to show respect to someone by listening to his or her hurt. Then, you can work toward reconciliation.

Talk It Over

  • With whom do you have conflict? What do you think might be the cause of his or her hurt?
  • How would you rate your listening skills? What gets in the way of taking time to listen to others?
  • What steps can you take to sit down with someone and really listen to his or her heart so that you can work toward reconciliation?
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