I've found myself recently convicted by the passage in 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.
We all probably even have that passage memorized. I know I do. But memorization is not the same as having it written on my heart...
Am I quick to hear? or am I already planning what I'm going to say next? Sometimes I am probably more apt to be quick to dismiss. But being a good listener is what God wants for us. He knows that in the discipline of "hearing" we see into the heart of those who are speaking. When we are true "hearers" we find empathy and compassion overflow and the love of Christ is able to come from us. Hearing is a discipline. If we find it difficult to listen to those we are with, how much more difficult it will be to hear God. Hearing must be practiced and cultivated.
Am I slow to speak? No. How many times have I said something and then immediately wished I could take it back? Being slow to speak means dying to yourself. It means overcoming the fleshly need to be heard, overcoming the feeling that what you have to say is "important." It also allows us to use discernment. What a wonderful gift to those around us when hasty words are left unspoken.
Slow to anger...Whew! Now that is really asking a lot, Lord. Don't you see how frustrating my life is with three small kids underfoot, cooking, cleaning, refereeing, consoling, laundrying, and trying to fit in school amidst all the chaos?? He does see. And he knows that living in a constant state of near-eruption is not healthy for us, or for those around us. Our frustration doesn't fix anything because we are selfish creatures. I'm usually angry or frustrated because things haven't gone according to my plans. When we turn to God in the midst of our anger, He will calm us. When we turn to God after we've been angry, He will help us repent of our sin.
You see, God is gentle to us. He wants us to willingly heed his call to slow down. And until we do, he is long-suffering. He truly wants the best for us and holding our tongue, hearing those we love, and keeping our tempers in check will bless those around us!