“The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
The Lord woke me up very early this morning and asked me this question: “What is more important… Your right to speak or your responsibility to listen?” This isn’t necessarily the conversation I wanted to have at 3AM, especially before my first cup of coffee, but I sense this is the conversation that Jesus is wanting to have with His people, especially those of us in ministry at the moment.
As an American I value my rights, especially my freedom of speech. I like being able to speak my mind, express my opinions, and share what’s on my heart. As a minister I have a responsibility to listen to the voice of The Lord, making sure that what I speak lines up with the Scripture and expresses the heart and word of The Lord. I also must realize the responsibility of taking the time to listen to the people I’m leading, and maybe even more so listening to the people I’m called to love and reach for the sake of The Gospel, even if, or especially if, they think differently than me.
At the end of the day as a Jesus Follower, I am called to be an “Ambassador of Hope.” When someone is appointed as an ambassador they have many privileges but they surrender one sacred right: the right to their own opinion. You will never hear an Ambassador say: “My opinion is ___”, instead they say: “The opinion or policy of my King/ President/ Prime Minister/ government is ___.” We all have opinions and a wise man once said: “Opinions are like armpits. Everyone has at least two and most of the time they stink.” I’m finding that statement to be truer everyday. I am sad to say that I have been guilty of giving people a “piece of my mind” instead of a piece of God’s heart. Sadly what I thought, the “piece of my mind”, has most likely kept people from receiving what they needed most: an encounter with the heart of God. Maybe Epictetus was on to something when he said: “There’s a reason God gave us two ears and only one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
It has been gut wrenching and heartbreaking to witness the arguments of believers and ministers on social media platforms over the past few weeks. Things are being said online that would most likely never be said around the communion or dinner table. Perhaps this would be a good time to check our hearts, fix our eyes on the eternal, get the mind of The Lord, and listen. Listen to His still small voice, listen to The Good News more than the news, and let our minds be transformed and renewed.
2 Timothy 2:23-24 “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”
Lord Jesus, help me to listen to your voice, so that I can know your heart and share it with the world around me. Amen
- David Wagner