Quick To Listen

For some reason, one of the hardest things for us to do is go listen. We live in a world with so many platforms to voice our opinions and thoughts, but who is listening? When people get into a disagreement, both people tend to talk over each other because they both think they’re right and they want to make their point. If anyone is listening in that situation, it’s usually so they can rebut the other person. For the most part, we’ve lost the ability to actively listen with the intent to understand the other side and where they are coming from. Active listening involves pushing out the rebuttal thoughts and stopping the need to interrupt. It’s very difficult to do, but is able to be learned so that we can find what is the truth instead of “our truth”.

In Acts 15, while the Church was still very young, there was a difference in opinion about whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised in order to truly be saved. Paul and Barnabas disagreed and debated strongly. Since neither side moved, they decided to take the case to the apostles in Jerusalem for clarification. Peter agreed with Paul in this matter. Then in verse 12 it says, “All the people remained silent, and they listened [attentively] to Barnabas and Paul as they described all the signs and wonders (attesting miracles) that God had done through them among the Gentiles” (AMP). After listening, James got up and pointed to the Scriptures to show what they said, and then everyone came to an agreement and sent out people and letters to discuss their decision.

James 1:19 says, “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving].” God’s Word has given us instruction to be quick to listen rather than to be quick to interrupt and speak. Then when we do speak, we need to choose our words carefully. Finally, be slow to get angry at someone, especially those with whom we disagree. People feel most valued when they’re heard. Remember that the person you are disagreeing with is also made in God’s image. Each person in the disagreement in the Early Church thought they were right and the other was wrong. Because they were willing to listen and seek wisdom from authority who prayed and searched the Scriptures, the issue between them was resolved. That same formula works today if we’re willing to listen and be humble enough to know we could be wrong.

Photo by Giorgio Grani on Unsplash


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2 responses to “Quick To Listen

  1. Matt

    Chris, I love this topic. It’s something I keep getting drawn to lately. I just finished reading a great book related to this. It’s not faith-based, but speaks to listening and how to have “bridging conversations” with people who don’t agree with you. It’s by Monica Guzman: “I Never Thought of it That Way.”

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