January 23rd Devotion

Sometimes I’ve Been Quick to Speak and Slow to Listen
By: Anne Peterson

Today’s Bible Verse: My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. - James 1:19

It happened again. Instead of taking time to listen and respond kindly, I spoke in haste and reacted poorly.

When we are quick to speak, we don’t have a chance to hear what the other person is saying, and more importantly why they are saying it. When I am quick to answer, I react instead of responding with grace. God tells us to be kind and compassionate to one another and to forgive each other (Ephesians 4:32). But when we’re quick to speak and slow to listen, we don’t care how soft our words are, we just shoot them out.

It didn’t take long for God’s Spirit to tell me I was wrong. I knew I was. But my pride tried talking me out of apologizing. After all, what about what my husband said? Wasn’t I justified? I knew I wasn’t, but my feet were stuck in that pride.

I’m glad God gives us free access to his throne room, 24/7. We are not put on hold. We don’t have to worry that God won’t answer us when we send up a quick prayer. Our God is available and he graciously tells us to call on him. As Peter called out to God when he was slipping under the water and God responded (Matthew 14:30-31), God also responds to our calls for help immediately.

When we are quick to listen, the people who speak to us can tell we value them and what they have to say. People can often be impatient with others in this area. Everyone wants to know they matter, and that their words have merit. When we rush others, they feel insignificant. How do I know this? I’ve experienced it, and sadly, I have been impatient at times with those I love.\
Jesus always took time with those who spoke to him. Even when people brought children to
Jesus so he could pray for them, and the disciples rebuked those people, Jesus told the disciples to let the children come (Matthew 19:14). Every person is valued by God, even little people.

God works in our lives from the moment we trust in Jesus and what he did for us on the cross. Paul was confident God would complete the work he had started (Philippians 1:6). We are all works in progress. And sometimes we look unfinished. But God keeps working on us, nonetheless. Little by little, we are becoming like Jesus.

The day I was impatient, I eventually swallowed my pride and approached my husband.

“I was wrong to say what I did. Will you forgive me, Mike?”
And he did, again.

We need to submit to God’s nudges and let go of our need to be right, or whatever else we’re holding onto. When we release our grip, we’ll see God work in ways we never imagined. May we learn to be quick to listen and slow to speak, especially with the Lord. And may we open our hands so God can teach us all the things he wants us to learn. And then we’ll look like Jesus.

Open Your Hand
What is that you are holding in your hand
in your fist that is closed ever tight?
What is that you are purposely keeping from me,
for you feel that you have the right?

Don’t you know as you grow
in your walk with me,
I can see even things that you hide?
Oh if you only knew what’s in store for you,
you would open your hand so wide.
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