Just recently it began to dawn on me that many of the misunderstandings we experience every day could be easily avoided if we tried to listen to one another more carefully. We hear someone say something or we read what someone wrote and immediately think, “Oh well – been there, done that,” without thinking further and deeper about what that particular person might have really meant.
As for me, I know that it is possible to continually stay in God’s presence when I first listen to His voice instead of reacting to my own BBB (brain blah blah). 😉 But oh, how very difficult this is!! That does not mean we should ever refrain from opening our mouth when God gives us His wisdom to do so. However, we could try to listen what another person really wants to tell us until he or she finished talking. Not always easy, I admit, since some people seem to talk without ceasing. Yet that probably happens with good reason. Maybe, they have been looking for someone who eventually hears their heart’s cry between the lines of superficial talk. In the epistle of James we are told about the importance of seeking God’s wisdom first.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (Js 1:19-27 ESV)
[Emphasis in bold letters mine]
So, how can we discern whether our thoughts regarding a certain person with whom we are confronted spring from God’s heart or rather from our fallen nature? Simply by recognizing that we have been blessed by God with a peaceful, loving, kind, and compassionate mind and heart that influence our thinking, speaking, and finally doing. In the third chapter of his epistle James goes on to describe the difference between the wisdom of this world which belongs to Satan’s realm and the wisdom that solely comes from God.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (Js 3:13-17 ESV)
[Emphasis in bold letters mine]
If our hearts have been opened by God to the persons with whom we have to do, we will feel His unconditional love and understanding for them – whoever these persons might be. God enables us to enjoy His peace as long as we try to seek him first. That means, when we talk with someone or read something and feel upset, nervous, or even angry, then God nudges us to flee back into His comforting presence. In this place we are always secure and able to give to others what they really need, rather than to take from these people who have nothing to give because of their, perhaps, spiritually destitute condition.
The apostle Paul reminds us of how our heart condition toward everyone could look like when God has poured His essence, which is LOVE, into our very hearts (cf. Rom 5:5).
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Cor 13:4-8 ESV)
May we experience God’s Neverending Love for all of us more and more fully. Amen.