I was just musing the other day. We read in James, "Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger." (James 1:19) I get that this is a good idea in conversations and interactions with others. I try to practice it myself, and see it as essential in Internet discourse particularly, but always in everyday living.
How often do we fail to communicate because we fail to listen? We'll get up on our high horse or soap box and tell everyone they're wrong. More to the point, we'll do it without actually knowing how they're wrong. We'll operate on half-truths, misconceptions, and misguided ideas. What do they really believe? We're not sure. We didn't listen long enough to find out. So we end up tilting at windmills, trying to knock down imaginary dragons that no one actually believes in, or to slay the ogre that isn't really part of where they are. They will respond, of course, with equal vigor because they've now been accused of something that isn't true. And the battle is engaged.
I wonder if James knew the Internet was coming? No, of course not. It seems that our Internet world is extremely well suited to be slow to hear and quick to speak. I've even heard of and seen the "there's someone wrong on the Internet" syndrome where people seem to live their lives to cruise the ether and correct anyone they can find. But it's part of the Internet world. There is generally a necessary lag in any Internet conversation by the nature of the beast. So we have the opportunity to hear a little and respond in haste. Asking for more information, coming to a deeper understanding, is difficult just because of the medium itself. Unfortunately I don't see any "Internet exemption" for God's command in James. There is no "Be quick to hear and slow to speak ... unless it's inconvenient." As a general rule, then, slow to speak and quick to hear ought to characterize a Christian's interactions. And it doesn't. It should. We ought to work on that.
I have a question, though, beyond that. What I'm wondering about is how about when it comes to God's Word? Slow to speak; quick to hear? Should we be quicker to hear God's Word and slower to complain to God, to lift our prayers, our petitions, our woes? Oh, I'm not saying we shouldn't be doing all that. I'm just wondering if we shouldn't be as quick to do that before, you know, listening to God in His Word. Just thinking out loud here.