Summary: This message encourages believers to practice biblical principles in relationships regarding attitudes, communication, and anger.
Preventive Maintenance for Relationships
By far the most difficult problem in relationships is poor communication. Whether we are talking about marriages, parenting, business, team sports, you name it. The one area that is most often tagged as the culprit in relational difficulties is poor communication. Sometimes examples of such communication are ridiculously funny.
The Massachusetts Bar Association Journal printed the following questions actually asked of witnesses during a trial.
Were you alone or by yourself?
Was it you or your younger brother who was killed in the war?
You were there until the time you left, is that true?
Q: Can you describe the individual? A: He was about medium height and had a beard. Q: Was he male or female?
Q: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people? A: All my autopsies are performed on dead people.
Communication is at once the most rewarding and the most risky aspect of relationships. How we communicate with one another makes all the difference in the world when it comes to the quality of our relationships.
It is not surprising that such a critical aspect of life would be clearly addressed in the Bible. As we come to James 1:19-21, we are given wise counsel from God’s word about communication. It amounts to some preventive medicine for relationships. Following these inspired instructions from James will help us prevent relationship wrecks before they happen. James calls us to “take note” of this.
I. Adopt an attitude that helps relationships.
This attitude is characterized by three principles.
A. Let everyone be quick to listen.
1. Not just quick to hear – quick to listen.
2. Listening involves not just the syllables and words. It
involves hearing the heart.
3. A person who has truly listened ought to be able to repeat
the message back to the speaker with clear understanding.
4. Let me give you a proverb. Prov. 18:13 “He who answers
before listening, that is his folly and his shame.”
5. When we fail to listen, all kinds of problems occur. We
misinterpret, we jump to conclusions, we demonstrate a
lack of respect for the other person.
ILL: Erik Wiehenmayer reached the summit of Mt. Everest on May 25, 2001. 90% of the climbers who attempt this feat fail. 165 had died trying since 1953. That is amazing in itself. What makes Erik’s climb even more amazing is that he has been blind since he was 13. How did he succeed? Because he listened well. He listened for a bell tied to the back of the climber in front of him. He listened for instructions of team mates who would shout directions to him. He listened for the sound of his pick jabbing the ice to know whether it was safe to cross. He made the summit because he listened well.
APP: You and I will never enjoy the panoramic vistas our relationships have to offer if we don’t become good listeners. There is a husband or wife here today who could dramatically improve their marriage if they would practice listening. There is a parent or child who could enter a new level of love and trust if they would listen. There are brothers and sisters in Christ here today who by listening could come to understand one another and strengthen their relationships. Dietrich Boenhoffer said, “He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon no longer be listening to God.” Let us all be quick to listen.
B. Let everyone be slow to speak.
1. This is the flip side of being quick to listen. We cannot talk
and listen at the same time.
2. This implies a thoughtful and prayerful response rather than
a quick, emotional response.
3. James does not tell us to be silent. He says be slow to
speak. We need to speak or there is no conversation.
But we need to speak wisely and thoughtfully.
4. Here is a proverb, Prov. 12:18 – “Reckless words pierce
like a sword but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
ILL: Our first response is normally to talk, not to listen. We say things before we even think about what we are saying.
APP: How often have I embarrassed myself and misled others because I was slow to listen and quick to speak? There is an old saying that goes like this: God gave us two ears and one mouth that we may listen twice as much as we speak. We need to be like the person who prayed:
Lord, help us not to talk too much because talking too much is like driving too fast; sometimes the brakes aren’t good and we pass by the place where we intended to stop.
James tells us be slow to speak.
TS – A healthy attitude for relationships is one of respectful listening and respectful responses…Quick to listen, slow to speak. Now, would you notice another important preventive principle…