Listening to Learn
By Meg Bucher
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” - James 1:19-21 NLT
Silence is: “the absence of any sound or noise; stillness …the state or fact of being silent; muteness …absence or omission of mention, comment, or expressed concern.” The silent treatment has turned into ghosting. To ghost someone is to “suddenly end all contact with a person without explanation, especially in a romantic relationship.”
James says, in the verse above, “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Anger is a necessary emotion, but the way we handle it is important. James tells us why: “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” Then, he says, “humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” In other words … listen. Tempers are lost and people are ghosted because we are disobedient to the Word planted in us. The Holy Spirit is faithful to convict us when we’re about to cross the line in anger … but it’s our choice to listen. Paul wrote to the Ephesians,
“'Don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” - Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT
God created us to need each other. No where in Scripture does it say we have the right to give someone the silent treatment, ignore a brother or sister, or ghost someone out of anger. (Special side note to this article: In situations of abuse, please get help.)
Intersecting Faith and Life:
Matthew recorded a conversation between Peter and Jesus: “Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven.’” - Matthew 18:21-22 NLT
The Bible equips us with steps to repair relationships. God is faithful to place people in our lives purposefully. When we have responded in anger, and wreck a relationship, there are three things Scripture tells us to do:
1. Own our behavior.
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two other with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.” - Matthew 18:15-17 NLT
Hurt people, hurt people. We can have forward loving compassion for others who are hurting by choosing to walk the road of forgiveness before we receive an apology. However, when we are responsible for hurting another person, it’s important to acknowledge the hurt we have caused, whether or not it was intentional. James wrote,
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” - James 5:16 NLT
3. Lead with Love.
“Always forgiven, never loved less.” It’s a phrase I have said to my daughters over and over, and taught to communicate to their friends as well. Jesus’ command on how many times we are to forgive someone in the verses above (Matthew 18:21-22) allow us to safely assume He means, always forgive. Why? Because we are always forgiven.
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins …” - 1 John 1:9 NLT
There is nothing we can do to outrun the love of God. The Bible says, “…nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” - Romans 8:38 NLT
Learning to listen is hard. We are by nature very offend-able. Though it may seem easiest to ghost someone out of our lives, the truth is they were put there on purpose. Cutting them out only robs us of the reason they were there in the first place. Instead of running from the inevitably difficulty that is relationships with other people …let’s aim to stay, and learn to listen.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/FTiare
Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ as a freelance writer, blogger at Sunny&80, and author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” and “Glory Up, The Everyday Pursuit of Praise,” and “Home, Finding Our Identity in Christ.” She earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University, but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters …which led her to pursue her passion to write. Always active in her community and local church, Meg also leads Bible study for women and teen girls.
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