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A Good Listener

Dear brothers, don't ever forget that it is best to listen much, speak little, and not become angry; for anger doesn't make us good, as God demands that we must be.

So get rid of all that is wrong in your life, both inside and outside, and humbly be glad for the wonderful message we have received, for it is able to save our souls as it takes hold of our hearts.

And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. So don't fool yourselves. For if a person just listens and doesn't obey, he is like a man looking at his face in a mirror; as soon as he walks away, he can't see himself anymore or remember what he looks like. But if anyone keeps looking steadily into God's law for free men, he will not only remember it but he will do what it says, and God will greatly bless him in everything he does. James 1: 19-25 (TLB)

Elizabeth Erlandson lives in Nebraska. Her husband was in the hospital recovering from emergency open-heart surgery. Elizabeth had spent several days sitting by his side, first keeping vigil, then keeping him company. One afternoon, desperately in need of respite, Elizabeth drove to a nearby mall and wandered through the shops.

When she went into her favorite clothing store, the clerk who helped her was new. They were strangers, but within minutes Elizabeth was sharing her story. The clerk listened intently and with great empathy. When Elizabeth left the store, she felt better. Since then, she has often stopped by the store to say hello and visit for a few minutes.

We live in a hurried world where listening with compassion and understanding is rare. James 1:19 reminds us to be quick to listen and slow to anger. Listening well is a difficult discipline to cultivate, but it is worth the effort. In a noisy and distracted world, finding someone who cares enough to pause and acknowledge our feelings is priceless. Perhaps by becoming good listeners we will encourage others to come back and hear what God says to them through us.

Prayer: Dear God, open our ears so that we may hear your voice. Teach us by your Spirit to truly listen to others, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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