The lost art of listening

We witness it every day in our culture. Everyone is talking. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is an expert and has a handle on the truth. As if the world would be okay if they would just calm down and listen to you (or me). We see it on the news, panel after panel of “talking heads” all talking at the same time. Everyone is speaking; no one is listening.

Closer to home, there are friends arguing with friends on Facebook.  I have even had friends of mine arguing with other friends that they don’t even know on my page! There are people expressing opinions based on “facts” they have accepted to be true which makes them unwilling to hear any other argument. It seems we’ve lost the ability to debate an issue and, perhaps disagree, without anger, harsh words and hurt feelings. Everyone is speaking; no one is listening.

This is not what the Bible teaches us. In James 1:19 we are encouraged to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry”(NLT). It seems we have that backwards today. We get angry faster than ever and we blast our opinions out for everyone to see. If you aren’t like this you will certainly know someone who is. Everyone is speaking; no one is listening.

Solomon warns us in Proverbs 18:2 “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions” (NLT). He takes it further in chapter 19, verse 28, “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent” (NLT). Shouldn’t these verses give us pause? Ask yourself what your “online persona” is like. Should you rein it in a bit or maybe just close your Facebook account? Although, it’s not just online, we all have an impact on others everywhere we go.

Finally, there have always been arguments and disagreements. In the New Testament we know that Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement about John Mark that caused a split in their relationship and Paul chose Silas to go on with him. In Philippians 4: 2, Paul appeals to two women, who worked alongside him to settle their disagreement. In Mark 9:33, Jesus “catches” the disciples in an argument. “What were you discussing out on the road? But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest” (Verse 34).  Can you imagine the Facebook posts and arguments on that subject!