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January 9, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”—James 1:19-20 (NKJV)
Confession time! Hit the rewind button on your mind and recall two or three of your most regrettable moments in your marriage. Got them? Good! Now, consider how differently things would have played out if you had just applied what James is sharing with us here.
He tells us to be “swift to hear.” In other words, James is admonishing us to be good listeners, to be people whose first instinct in life is to hear and process what’s being said and what’s happening.
Here’s why that’s important (and here’s where our marital low-lights teach us something), when we are listening, really listening to our spouse, we aren’t speaking . . . and all too often it’s our mouth that gets us into trouble. Have your ears or your mouth caused the most self-inflicted damage in your marriage? Me too!
Notice also, that wrath is the next boxcar connected to speaking. It’s like James has been shadowing us; for our words are often the catalyst for the kind of wrath and conflict that God wants us to avoid.
Intentional listening has a way of stopping those train wrecks from happening. It causes us to be calm amidst emotional storms rather than rashly reacting to them. Listening gives us margin to see and sidestep the snares that we would otherwise step in.
Besides this, any marital conflict that does happen can’t be resolved apart from a healthy element of listening. And one half of the marriage can’t do all the listening. Listening needs to be reciprocal, because two-way communication consisting of listening and speaking is an essential foundation for any marriage relationship. Husbands need to listen to wives and wives need to listen to husbands. When they do, communication can quench conflict before it spreads out of control.
Listening is an ally to both husbands and wives, and they’re wise to enlist it for the sake of their marriage. Especially when their natural inclination would be to open their mouths in anger. We can’t change the regrets of the past, but we can allow the wisdom of God’s Word to form our future.
DIG: Why is listening important?
DISCOVER: How does listening effectively resolve marital conflict?
DISPLAY: How can you improve your listening to speaking ratio?
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Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.