“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:19b-21 NIV).
Let’s say you’re a gardener. You’ve learned that you can take the exact same seed and plant it in three different locations and get three different results. In one spot, you’ll get giant tomatoes. In another, you’ll get small tomatoes. And in a third, you’ll get nothing. What’s the difference? It’s not the seed; it’s the soil. The soil must be prepared for the seed.
The same is true when you hear God’s Word. Your heart has to be prepared for the Word. If you get up late, have trouble finding a parking spot, and are irritated as you rush into church, you’re probably not going to hear God’s voice! You’re not in a receptive mood.
That’s why you can take two people to church, set them side-by-side, and one will walk out thinking God really spoke to him and the other won’t get anything out of the service. The heart of one person was prepared; the other’s heart wasn’t.
The Bible says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:19b-21 NIV).
For good reception, this passage teaches you have to have four attitudes:
- You must be quiet. You can’t hear God if you’re talking.
- You have to be calm. You can’t rush God. If you’re frantic, you’re not going to hear God. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” My translation of that is: “Sit down and shut up.”
- You have to be clean. Before you can meet with God, you need to take out some emotional and spiritual garbage. You need to get rid of the stuff that stinks in your life. You get rid of the garbage by confessing your sin to God and agreeing with him that what you did was wrong.
- You need to be humble. Be ready to do whatever God tells you from his Word. A prideful attitude won’t work.
Talk It Over
- Why are silence and active listening such difficult things to practice? What can you do to minimize your distractions so that you are able to listen well?
- What emotional or spiritual garbage is keeping you from hearing God’s voice today?
- What new habits can you adopt to help prepare your family to hear from God during church, family or individual devotions, or at any time?