Quick to listen, slow to speak

“… Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak …” (James 1:19)

People tend to see phenomena. This verse speaks about essence, not phenomenon. I may speak less than others because I am afraid if my words would offend others, if I would say something wrong, or if I would look stupid. I may not speak less because I really want to do so. Perhaps I speak less just because I am afraid of others. And I believe this is not what the verse means.

Moreover, speaking, in a broader sense, may not necessarily mean speaking orally. Some people speak through writings–and some of them write a lot! But people tend to listen than to read, and therefore they think that those who write cannot be categorized as speaking people. But this is not true. Either orally or in writings, it is speaking! Still in a much broader sense, speaking may happens in one’s thoughts. Some people may have the ability to create dialogues in their minds. Some people may say something bad about others in their minds, and they can do it as often as they like it. These people speak a lot in their minds!

Coming back to the verse, quick to listen and slow to speak is therefore about essence, not phenomenon. It is more on the attitude of our hearts than what appears on the outside. We need to speak with more sense and less nonsense. We need to be wise with our words. We need to always be willing to lend a listening ear. And now we see how much more difficult to do those than just shutting our mouths up.


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