Wednesday: February 19, 2020

James 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

I did a little snooping around after reading today’s text from the book of James to find out if there were creatures with more than one mouth or if any had more than two ears. In the first instance, one mouth was the case for all creatures (except perhaps for unstructured organisms like sponges). For ears, nearly all organisms that have them, have exactly two by design. Both cases are the default position, if no interruption occurs pre or post-development.

Thus, the message became clearer ‘be quick to hear, but slow to speak’ (1:19). Proportion-wise, two ears and a mouth suggest greater use of the former than the latter. Therefore, we are invited to do more listening than speaking, because the more we have listened, the better placed we will be to make any form of contribution regarding a subject matter.

Listening is a great tool to gather knowledge, to identify multiple perspectives on a single matter and to synthesise these in a thought process. Hence, while hearing is used for sounds that come to our ears through no effort of ours, listening requires greater agency. It involves intentionally turning our attention to a sound and that is what we are invited to do.

God does the same to our prayers, He turns His attention to them, He listens (Jeremiah 29:12) and you need more than just a moment to consider how much listening that is. My dear, listening demands that you intentionally tune your auditory senses towards a specific source of sound. Therefore,

if the sound reaching your ears arrived not out of your intentional decision to let them, then you aren’t listening yet.


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