“Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry.” – James 1:19
Christians, and especially preachers, are known for speaking. We are called, after all, to proclaim God’s Word. Whether the preacher in the pulpit, the evangelist on the street corner, or the Facebooker with lots of faith to share, Christians are known for speaking.
Yet more often than we may care to admit, the best posture for a Christian is not that of speaking, but of listening.
Listening is an exercise in putting someone else’s words before your own; putting someone else’s needs before your own. It is prioritizing them over you. Their needs, their words, their pain, their joy, their desires, their ramblings take precedence over your own. Sit, listen, receive, and honor what your neighbor has to share.
“Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.” – Philippians 2:4
Listening is humbling oneself in front of another and seeking their good. Listening is a posture that bears, honors, and holds in trust the very heart of another.
“Bear another’s burdens, for in so doing you fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
This posture of listening is the posture of love.
“Love is patient, love is kind … it doesn’t seek its own way.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Love doesn’t seek its own way or it’s own interests. Love seeks the interests and care of our neighbor.
Listening is such a love. And love is the heartbeat of Christian faith.