A hush fell over the crowd
There is a lot of chatter in the world. Does it feel that way to you, too? We have round-the-clock news on television and radio, and social media is just a finger’s-length away at all times. Some people never stop to take a breath. I wonder, though, whether or not anyone is really listening to all that talk? Can anyone really hear over all of the noise?
A short excerpt from James 1:19-20 has been in my mind lately. The author writes, “You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” Listen. It’s easy to forget to do that in such a stimulating world. Maybe we are afraid that we’ll miss our chance to chime in. It takes a challenging, conscious effort to listen before we speak or get angry.
It’s especially difficult to listen when there are so many triggers in the news. One of the most divisive stories we’re facing today comes from the National Football League. Several players have been kneeling as a sign of protest during the singing of the national anthem. Many reactions to these protests have been loud and insensitive. Whether people are in support of the players or disagree with them, anger is boiling over into everyday conversations.
But, if we’re too quick to shout our own opinions on the matter, then we might miss something important. If we listen, then we might gather something that we need to hear. From those who are protesting, we might hear about the constant struggles that people of color face as they try to navigate their way through ordinary parts of life. From those who disagree, we might hear about the hardships of underappreciated veterans who do not feel supported after giving so much of their lives to this country. If we listen, we are sure to hear that we have neighbors who are hurting and who need our love and support.
Being slow to speak and slow to anger allows us the luxury of listening. And once we hear the cries of pain all around us, then we can use our voices and our anger to do something about it.
God, give us listening hearts so that we do not fill this world with anger and arguments, but instead with love and peace for all of your children.
–Josh Kestner, pastor in residency