Foot in mouth disease. If you’ve ever had it, you’re not alone. One life lesson I learned “first hand” was NEVER to ask a woman if she was pregnant. You can figure that one out. There are plenty of other reasons to have clean feet, knowing they will sometimes be in our mouths. The obvious remedy, of course, is to think before you speak. But that’s just a start. Listening, really listening before forming an opinion is equally critical. But even behind that essential skill is something else. It’s having a heart of good will. Like God’s heart. A heart that hopes for the best of everyone, despite how their current circumstances present them. We must become willing to take time to listen.
There is a story behind every chapter of life, every circumstance. Sometimes sad and terrible stories. Jesus’ brother James offered great counsel saying “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”(James 1:19) Let’s admit it, we often tend to form opinions before the picture is fully painted. The bible gives us an example of that as well. In the book of 1st Samuel 1 there is a husband and wife (Elkanah and Hannah). Hannah was barren, no kids, and in that culture it was not only a sign of disgrace and cause for shame, but many folks believed it was punishment or judgment from God. Years went by and her despair deepened. Her husband’s deep, deep love for her was not consolation enough.
On one occasion Hannah went to the temple to pray and pour out her saddened heart to God. As she wept bitterly her lips moved, trembled, but her voice was not heard. She was desolate. Hannah vowed that if God would look on her misery and give her a son she would commit him to the Lord’s service. This was quite a sacrifice, especially for a barren woman. From a distance, the temple priest, Eli, observed her mouth and composure and determined Hannah was drunk and lit into her with fierce rebuke, assuming she was “wicked.” Rush to judgment! Hannah was later able to explain her grief to Eli, receive his blessing, and eventually had a wonderful son, Samuel. But you get my point, don’t you?. To err on the side of compassion rather than judgment is more pleasing and more like God. Next time. Quick to listen. Sloooow to speak. Think About It.