Quick to Hear
Most of us are not “natural born” listeners. We tend to either be disinterested in what another person is saying or “hijack” the conversation and make it about ourselves. Being a good listener takes effort, but it produces great rewards.
James admonishes for us to be “quick to hear, slow to speak.” In context, he is most likely talking about hearing the word of God since he mentions it in vv 18, and 21 to 23. For sure, we must be quick and eager to hear the word of God for our own good, but the principle can certainly be applied to our interaction with others. Let’s consider this with a personal conversation in view.
Resist... reacting immediately to what another person is saying. Don’t jump in with “That happened to me once...” or “This is what I think about that...” You have hijacked the conversation.
Empathize... by listening with your heart. Try to enter into their situation whether it be a joyful event or a difficult happening. Try to “hear” exactly from where they are coming. Brother Jim McGuiggan notes that “Listening is more than saying nothing while another is speaking.”
Ask questions... so you can further understand what their situation is. Draw them further into the conversation and make it about them!
Offer... help if it is warranted. Prayer is always appropriate, but you may be able to do something else. Perhaps you can enlist the help of another or maybe even the church.
Identify... with their situation if you can. This should be done after they have fully shared their situation. Now you can say: “I remember when...” or “This happened to us...” But avoid ever saying: “I know exactly how you feel.” No two people or situations are exactly alike.
If we learn to practice “quick to hear, slow to speak,” our relationships at home and in the church will climb to new heights!