As the dogs and I were walking along, I noticed that Marci was walking differently. I picked her up and found something on the bottom of her foot that I quickly removed.
Observation – paying attention – requires us to be intentional. It is necessary to be intentional to understand the needs of the people around you. In this busy world, we often don’t listen when someone is talking with us, because we are trying to contemplate the best answer to the conversation or even thinking about the next task we must accomplish, looking beyond the current interaction. Many times, we are so stuck on ourselves and our goal is to be heard instead of to listen. Also, we are rarely present in the moment, and yet this presence is what is needed to show love and compassion to others. Time is precious, and how you use time is a choice. Do you choose to run around on empty and allow the situations around you to dictate your actions? Do you attempt to be in the moment wherever you are at, being at attention, and calmly following the leading of your Father?
Notice that Jesus was always intentional—always present – and able to understand the needs of those around Him. He spent much time in prayer. He spent much time interacting with people, whereby He invested in their lives, actively listening and engaging in conversation. Conversation, such a lost art today.
Today, be mindful of what is happening around you. Wherever you go, be there. Slow down. Listen for His still small voice. Invest in those before you. Enjoy the people God has put before you, and ask God how you can bless them today to bring Him glory.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” – James 1:19 [ESV]
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3 [NIV]
I talk a lot. Always have; perhaps I always will. It has certainly been something I had to be mindful of because speaking can get you in trouble. The Bible speaks a lot about the words we speak and even the action of speaking. We are to be quick to listen and we are to be slow to speak.
If we are slow to speak, it allows us to think before we put our foot in our mouth. It also can keep us from sinning. It could prevent you from saying something hurtful or destructive to someone you care about when you are angry or frustrated. Something that is said cannot be unsaid. It’s important that we have the ability to bite our tongue, even if we are right. If we speak without thinking, we will leave behind us a path of destruction.
This verse also speaks about being quick to listen. Listening is often an issue for us. We want to talk. We want to share everything. I think we may like the sound of our own voices. It’s a me world. Listening is harder. It means you are allowing others to control the flow of the conversation. It means you are focused and taking in what the other is saying. Hopefully it means you are truly paying attention to the person. As you listen, you get to know more. As you listen, you basically are acknowledging that the speaker matters. Today, aim to be slower to speak and quicker to listen. Control your tongue.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 [NLT]
One day a fellow lost his keys. He retraced his steps and could not locate the lost keys. He looked everywhere. He asked everyone. No one had found the keys. He was worried and later the worry turned to anger. The keys had to be somewhere. Why can’t they be found?
The gentleman was so angry that he went outside and began to pound on the trash receptacle. He kicked it again and again. He started to tear into the trash can and caused a huge scene. Someone had to step forward and tell him to calm down and leave.
What an impression the fellow left!?! Now whenever I see him I can only think of the actions he took while in a fit of rage. I cannot help but remember the scene outside. It is so easy to let anger control you. It is so easy to be quick to get angry. But as James wrote, it “does not produce the righteousness God desires.” And it always leaves a bad impression that certainly does not give God the glory He rightfully deserves. Today, be slow to speak. Don’t allow anger to control you. Give it to God and be quick to listen.
“And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” – Ephesians 4:26 [NLT]
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” – James 1:19-20 [NLT]