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“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” – James 1:19-20

Listening is an important and often overlooked part of communication. We all tend to vie to be seen and heard. It’s easy to forget that we need to fight to hear and see what others see.

When we refuse to listen to others, we only see one way. Our way. And the odds are we do not have a monopoly on the truth. Even if our facts are right, there is something that is more important than just knowledge: loving someone by hearing them.

Not listening leads to wrath. Anger. We become incensed that our way is not being accepted. We raise our voices. We use manipulative tactics to try to turn an argument in our favor. If we refuse to listen, we become trapped in our own heads. Our insecurities feast and the chaos forms like a tornado. We try to displace it, blame the other for their inability to listen, or make everyone around us hurt in equal measure.

It is easy to see how this kind of anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. The Greek word translated “righteousness” includes the idea of community and harmony. Listening leads to harmony, anger does not.

If we cannot listen to others, it probably means we cannot listen to God either.

When we make the effort to listen, to slow down the fleshly impulses of pride, we can hear what others have to say. Not only hear what they say, but also to see what they are seeing. That opens the door for us to hear, and see, what God has to say.

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