Summary: We should be willing to truly listen before we speak.
Two Ears One Mouth
Text: James 1:19-20
1. Admittedly we all have trouble listening.
Maybe we are watching our favorite TV program, and our husband or wife is talking to us about something that is important to them.
As they talk, we may mumble, "Hmm", "Yeah", and "Uh Huh".
Until they finally give up, saying with annoyance in their voice, "You are not listening to a word I’m saying!"
2. Outside of the need to know Jesus as Savior this is perhaps our country's biggest problem; we don't listen to others. Even when we do, we are already thinking about how we are going to respond! If you don't believe me, checked any social media! How many people do you know that are either mad or won't even speak to a family member or close friend because of something that was said on Facebook or Twitter?
3. Perhaps this is why James tells us...
A. Be Quick To Listen
B. Slow To Speak
4. Let's all stand together as we read James 1:19-20.
Proposition: We should be willing to truly listen before we speak.
Transition: First, James tells us...
I. Be Quick To Listen (19a).
A. Understand This
1. One of the things I love the most about James' letter is that it is so practical. It deals with some of the basics of life. One of the things he addresses frequently in this letter is personal relationships with others.
2. In particular he deals with what we do with our mouths, and the reality of life is we often talk too much and listen too little.
3. That is why in this section he says, "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen..."
A. The expression be quick to listen is a beautiful way of capturing the idea of active listening.
B. We are not simply to refrain from speaking; we are to be ready and willing to listen.
C. One commentator suggests that the phrase “swift to hear,” used in James 1:19 (i.e., tachus eis to akousai), relates primarily to the hearing of or the ready obedience to the Word (referring to 1:18).
D. It is not just an imperative concerning normal social interaction or communication. It is, in fact, the trait of a good pupil, “quick to learn, slow to forget” (Ropes, International Critical Commentary, James, pp.168f.).
E. This “quick” listening is obviously to be done with discernment. We are to check what we hear with God’s word.
F. If we don’t listen both carefully and quickly, we are liable to be led into all kinds of false teaching and error (Barton, 1074).
G. Early congregations of believers were small and often met in homes.
H. In such informal gatherings there were undoubtedly discussions of Biblical truth.
I. James warned against quick, ill-considered comments, which would only lead to confusion (Steinberg, The Complete Biblical Library – Hebrews-Jude, 201).
J. "James is right to say this, for it is stupid to think that someone who is not prepared to learn from others will somehow be well-equipped to preach to them. Someone who want to become wise must first of all ask for this gift from God, as James has already said. Then he must find himself as a good teacher and in the meantime discipline his tongue so that he says nothing useless but restricts himself to preaching the truth which he has recently learned from others" (BEDE, Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, 17).
4. A major problem that we have in our society today is the desire to want to be heard. What happens when everybody is talking and no one is listening? Chaos
B. Be Good Listeners
1. "Truth is more safely heard then preached. For when it is heard, lowliness (humility) is preserved, but when it is preached some bit of boastfulness may steal an almost in unawareness, and this brings corruption" (Augustine, Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, 17).
2. Be quick to listen...
A. To Others
i. Proverbs 12:15 (NLT)
15 Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.
ii. It's easy to talk, but listening is hard. In fact, listening is a skill.
iii. We have insatiable desire to want to be heard, to have our thoughts and opinions out there for the world to...or read.
iv. However issues arise when we are unwilling to listen to what others have to say.
v. We need to slow down our mouths and speed up our ears.
B. Sound Doctrine
i. 1 Timothy 4:16 (NLT)
16 Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.
ii. The key word to understand here is SOUND doctrine, because there is more than enough unsound or incorrect doctrine floating around in the church today.