Monday, September 12, 2016

Be Listen

The following is an updated version of a MCM published some time ago

Sometimes we need a mind change to overcome a challenging circumstance like an illness or a loss. Sometimes we need a mind change to overcome an obstacle that could stop a good work. But very often we need a mind change because our minds are leading us to some wrong behavior.

James writes:My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (James 1:19).

There are certain hot button issues in our world today. People who take the Bible seriously are often known for their quick response in some of these cases. Gay marriage comes to mind, or even same-sex attraction. Gun control is another one. You could add patriotism, the military, and, of course, politics to the list. At the present moment, the phrase “black lives matter” is another.
Contrary to the words of James, Christians are often seen as those who are quick to speak, quick to become angry and prone to listen very little to those who disagree with them. It seems that some believers model their communication on the talkers on the cable news channels more than on the teachings of Scripture. In this time of bruising social discourse, we need the words from James.

It is possible that some now reading this have already stopped listening? They may have decided this is a call to compromise and are forming their own response. Please wait. This is not a call to appeasement but to relationship building. If we would listen to those we don’t understand, we would communicate to other people that we value them. Such listening will mean in some cases that we will learn some things we didn’t know, and in all cases, it will show the other person that we love them. Sometimes an open ear is more powerful than an open mouth. Surely, that is a bridge over which truth is much more likely to pass. Sometimes, the reputation of Bible believers needs to be changed.


  1. Tom, this is very helpful for our times. I am an elderly disciple, and I have must remember this when I don't understand how young disciples interact socially. James is so practical. Thanks for bringing up this important "fruit of the Spirit" which is the expression of kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

  2. Listeners don't grab attention and "likes". Listeners don't win the shouting match. But I aspire to be one anyway. Regarding some of those hot button issues, however, I really wonder if the truth will ever become unoffensive to the world no matter how slowly and gently it is communicated.

    1. the answer is no, the truth will never become unoffensive to the world, because the Bible tells us that the path is narrow and there are few who follow it. we will never convert "the world." but individual people, who feel God's love through us, will gradually open their ears and listen to the truth, and if their hearts are also open to God then, as his sheep, they will recognize his soft voice and follow him. i was a gay rights activist before i became a disciple. since then, nearly 20 years ago, my love and affection for gay people has not changed, only my convictions. i believe that is terribly important, because i know disciples who identified themselves as gay and i know that only through love and kindness were they able to find their way to God. so many people i meet have been pushed away from seeking God by the harshness of christians who would say they are just speaking the truth, and it saddens me. there is a better way, and it is mapped out in 1 corinthians 13:1-8.

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  4. While this is a hard pill to swallow, while I am choking on it, my ears are left open to hear the truth in this. May we always be willing to speak the truth in love, even if it means upsetting the political correctness cart.

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