Sometimes I just need to sit quietly and listen.
My days are often filled with writing—emails, letters, class notes, lessons, lists—with little time left for quality, undisturbed, focused listening. So yesterday I made a concentrated effort to listen by limiting my talking, which is naturally a prerequisite, and thinking hard about what I was hearing. I think James sums it up the best: Be quick to listen and slow to speak. (James 1:19)
Most of what I listen to would fall under the category of words. Have you ever thought about how God is a speaking God? Creation was birthed by the word of God. The Bible, God’s authoritative, infallible, inerrant written record contains about 750,000 words. When compared to Shakespeare—who wrote about 960,000 words—God’s word could be considered economical.
With the advent of the internet, the number of words being advanced on any given day staggers the mind. Last year, 3.8 billion people used the internet for things such as email (296 billion a day), Twitter (445,000 tweets per minute in 2017; 656 million tweets per day!), YouTube (4,146,600 videos watched every minute), Instagram (46,740 posts uploaded every minute), Facebook (over 3 million posts per minute, not counting comments and likes), texts (15,220,700 per minute), and the list goes on.
The numbers produce a disorienting effect. How do we get our arms around these kind of stats that leave us mentally out of breath?
I can’t answer that, but the words of Jesus immediately come to mind: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” (Mathew 12:36) I hope these words sober you as they do me. I need to listen more and talk less. Too often my words are like wash fluttering on a clothesline. I need to think deeply and opine cautiously. And even in listening, I need to exercise discernment in this day of smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand, and outright falsehoods. Not everything said is worth hearing.
So yesterday I listened. And what I heard carried eternal weight.
– Faith rests on Christ alone or it doesn’t rest on Him at all.
– If you add anything to what Christ has done, you subtract Christ.
– Adding anything to the finished work of Christ is to cut Christ off.
– Faith is the root; love is the fruit.
– We must have a growing knowledge of the Bible. This is what the Holy Spirit uses to sound the alarm when false teaching reaches our ears.
– Tolerate a little error, and it will soon permeate your entire life.
– Sincerity isn’t the issue when it comes to what we believe. Truth is the issue. What we believe matters.
In a world flooded with words, it’s easy to get caught up in the rising tide, becoming disjointed from reality. Just as Peter expressed his misplaced excitement at the transfiguration, I need to be both corrected and comforted by the Father’s admonition—“Listen to Him”—because I’m more like Peter than I care to admit. (Matthew 17:5)
Sometimes I just need to sit quietly and listen. More often than not, it’s my greatest need.