Good listeners speak forever

By: Carole L. Haines

A false witness will perish, but a person who listens will speak forever.
(Proverbs 21:28)

I was a very poor listener when I first married my beloved husband almost 38 years ago. I interrupted people so I could say what I wanted to say. I was impatient, and frankly talked way too much. My Beloved Bruce is why I learned to listen so well. I have never met such a patient listener. I drive myself crazy sometimes, yet he seems to be so patient with me. Truth be told, the Bible declares all believers in Jesus Christ saints (1 Cor. 1:2); but in a more traditional understanding, Bruce would definitely qualify for sainthood with flying colors. He never sat me down and told me the 10 steps to being a good listener or anything like that. He just is one, he just modeled it for me in his life every single day.

But what struck me from this above Scripture was “a person who listens will speak forever.” God’s Word tells us even more about listening in the book of James.
 “Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; 20 for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19b-20)

Quick to hear, slow to speak; not how someone would have defined me even 15 years ago, but I am learning the incredible value of this one relational gift. It is intriguing, however, that the verse in Proverbs 21 says that a good listener (to the truth NASB) opens the way for your life to speak forever. Wow! Eternal significance without words, just for listening. So amazing! Listening to God first, sitting at His feet every day. Listening to each other, listening within ourselves as the old adage says,
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” (Epictetus)

Our silence speaks volumes to those who are hurting and really just need to be heard. We don’t need to fix them or make it right. Most times we can’t; but we can listen well, hear their heart, let them empty out their pain, and receive them as Christ Jesus does. I think this is a skill unmatched in the toolbox of relationship.

It has taken me many years to grow in this skill, but it is worth all the effort needed to become better at it. The next time someone begins to share their heart with you, try listening without speaking a word. As the Scripture implies, this act of love can echo eternally for their soul, and for you as well, as the good listener.

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