“Does my voice always need to be heard?”
a devotional by Jack Ambrosius
Are you quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get angry?
James 1:19- 20, “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.”
A few weeks ago I read James 1:19-20 during my devotional time. This passage is a verse that I have heard and read many times but this time it stuck out to me. I asked myself, am I quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get angry? After meditating on that question for a couple days I came to the conclusion that I was not.
I am not quick to hear. I tend not to really listen at all. I find that when people talk to me I listen to respond and not to understand. I find that my mind drifts in many different directions and I do not treat the individual talking to me with the respect and attention that they deserve.
Also, I find that I am not slow to speak. I tend to think that what I have to say is way more important than what others have to say, and that is not right. For example, my wife will be talking to me about something and I will want to fix her problem instead of actually listening to her and responding. I normally hear the first part and start formulating my response and at that moment I have stopped listening because I think I have the answers. Another example, is when someone tells me a story my initial reaction is to think of another story to one-up them instead of actually listening.
So why am I doing this? Why do I always feel the need to have my voice heard, to one up others, and to be the center of attention? I am doing this because I want the approval of others, I want people to accept me, I want people to think I have good ideas, and I want to feel good about myself. I am constantly trying to find affirmation, and it is exhausting. Somedays I feel approved of by others and feel good about myself, and other days I do not. It is like being on a rollercoaster, always trying to win the approval of the people around me when I have no control over it in the first place. Also, by treating relationships with the mindset of needing something from them, it is hindering me from actually treating people with care. For example with my wife, if I wasn’t trying to show her that I have all the right answers I would be able to care for her much better.
Thankfully I do not have to live my life this way. I do not have to live my life trying to gain approval and acceptance from others because of the Gospel. The Gospel, or the Good News, tells me that I am 100% approved and accepted by God and I do not have to receive that from others. With my act of putting my faith in the Gospel, God approves of me and accepts me. Knowing this concept and believing it is incredibly freeing, it allows me to be quick to hear and slow to speak. In the past I was not these things because I was trying to get approval from others, and now that I know that my approval comes from God I am able to treat others with the attention and respect that they deserve because I know that I have everything I need in God. I am able to solely focus on others and treat them like they are the most important person in the world. I thank God that he has given me approval so that I can now live my life being quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get angry so that I can treat others like they are the most important people in the world instead of myself.