The topic of listening is a big one in our house lately. My oldest is almost three, and most of the discipline she receives is for not listening. Mommy and Daddy have one idea for what she should be doing, but she has her own ideas. Sometimes she can’t physically hear what we’re saying because she’s talking so loudly, demanding her own way.
Sometimes I wonder if I am so different from her when it comes to listening to my Heavenly Father.
James chapter 1 teaches about hearing and doing the word. As my daughter knows, listening isn’t just about hearing what is said, it’s about obeying those words. She might literally hear me, but when I ask her to listen to me, I mean I want her to demonstrate that she has heard me by doing what I ask.
James begins his passage about hearing and doing by describing two different attitudes that relate to how well we are able to listen to and obey God’s words:
“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.”
The attitude he promotes is meekness, the antithesis of which is arrogance. An arrogant attitude is the opposite of verse 19—it is one that is slow to hear, quick to speak, quick to anger. Arrogance says “I don’t need to hear what you have to say because I know better.” This attitude is our default setting. It is the attitude of our flesh, which is opposed to God and wants to set us up as our own gods.
“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
If we want to be doers of the Word, James teaches that we need to reject this fleshly arrogance and “receive with meekness the implanted word”. By rejecting our fleshly, default attitude and choosing to walk in the Spirit, we open ourselves up to hearing and receiving from God.
True listening requires humility. It requires that I set aside my attitude that I already have the answers and put myself in a position of receptivity to what God has to say to me.
What attitudes hinder you from hearing God? How can you set aside those attitudes and “receive with meekness” what He is saying to you today?