Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

Two Ears, One Tongue

JAMES 1:19,20-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.”

It’s an old quote, a very old quote, but oh does it have relevancy and application for us in the 21st century. In a culture where everyone has a opinion, voices an opinion, often unfiltered, and heated verbal engagements occur across all relational spectrums, this quote, though not inspired or spoken from a Christian, has Biblical substance. Here it is: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” This quote is attributed to a Greek philosopher named Epictetus around 60 AD. The Biblical substance? Look in the mirror. What do we see? One mouth. Two ears. There is much wisdom from God both in our creation and His Word when it comes to listening and hearing versus talking, speaking, and sadly, yelling.

In today’s scripture, James talks of being quick, not with the tongue which is easy to do in conversations centered on controversial topics and disagreements, but with hearing. And not just toward what is unfolding in our world socially or politically. Family arguments, marital exchanges, and church disagreements are also fertile soils to let loose a whole lot of words and do very little listening. And that is dangerous. Very dangerous not only in the potential harm in relationships when we squash people by much talk and little hearing, but in our own walks with the Lord. Take prayer for example. Do we realize a major portion of developing a close walk with the Lord through prayer is waiting on Him? That means prayer includes times of silence. Study “waiting” in the Psalms and notice how much the Psalmist waits on the Lord. But there is something else spiritually dangerous to us if we are prone to act like we have two mouths and one ear by the amount of talking over listening we do. This spiritually dangerous thing is revealed by King Solomon in the book of Proverbs which has a lot to say about our tongue and speech.

The king writes with a warning of certainty these words,“ When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10:19). Here is enough instruction to “put a hand over our mouths.” The warning is clear. Be a Mr., Mrs., Ms., Talkative always having to voice an opinion, always needing to weigh-in on a conversation, or just itching to get the last word in, and we increase the certainty of sin. Why? Remember James-For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:7-8)

Two ears and one tongue. Look in a mirror often and be reminded of that creation truth. And let that truth make us quicker to hear than talk. It will safeguard us from much sin in the area of our speech.

PRAYER: “Father, please help me to understand it is wise to be quick to listen, slow to speak; to hear more and talk less.”
QUOTE: “It is the wise Christian who learns when to speak, how to speak and what to speak.”

Because of Him,
Pastor Jim