June 9, 2008

Listen Up!

What do we know about James? He was one of Jesus' brothers. Can you imagine? The Creator of the universe, clothed in humanity, is your sibling? Chew on that for awhile. Another thing I've concluded about James is that he either understood firsthand the struggle of putting your foot in your mouth - not thinking before you speak - or he was around enough people who taught him this lesson that he learned by observation. Either way, his words are a constant beacon in my mind, bringing me back to center.

Let me explain. James 1:19 tells us to be "...quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." This has become like a mantra for me - a recovering, short-tempered, harsh, black & white, foot-in-mouth addict. One thing I find convicting in this exhortation is the realization that our anger is often rooted in our unwillingness to truly listen and our never-ceasing ability to open our pie hole and blow hot air. Yes, if I talked less & listened more...I might find my blood pressure lower and the wake of destruction I leave behind diminishing rapidly.

I've been reminded of these truths several times lately, and sadly it has been through witnessing those older than me (who should be displaying a monumental amount of discretion and spiritual maturity) completely forgoing James' advice. It is painful to hear things that you know if perhaps just one more moment of consideration and prayer were aimed in their direction...would probably never even been uttered. WORDS are not just words - they are a revelation of the lava and venom that can be brewing within our flesh. WORDS are an enormous part of why we find ourselves like Paul in Romans 7 - screaming to the heavens about the struggle to finally find victory over the flesh. (For more read Romans 6 & 7)

I'm not sure if this hits home with you or not. If it doesn't, chances are you just don't realize that you're talking too much, listening too little, and have an invisible size 10 shoe sticking out of your yapper. If you're interested in finding out, my encouragement to you is this: wait 5 seconds before you respond to anything said to you. Give it one week. See if you don't find yourself disregarding much of what you were about to say into the Recycle Bin.

And to you, the spiritually mature: WAKE UP! There are people watching you, listening to you, looking to you to see how this life as a Christ-follower is supposed to be lived. And like it or not, your "Sunday worship" is only as valid as your everyday WORDS. Those words are the subconscious window into our soul that reveal WHO we are, WHAT we really believe, and how much we value those around us. 

For more of the real deal, check these out:
Philippians 4:5
Proverbs 10:19
Proverbs 15:1
Ecclesiastes 5:1-3
James 3:2

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