LISTEN UP – SLOW DOWN

Here’s a question to consider …
What does God have to do to get your attention?

Today’s verse has its primary application in our day to day relationships, but there is also a critical heavenly correlation. It says:
EVERYONE SHOULD BE QUICK TO LISTEN, SLOW TO SPEAK AND SLOW TO BECOME ANGRY

Being “quick to listen” doesn’t mean that we ought to make people talk fast in order to keep our attention. It’s an instruction to listen first and listen well. To be deliberate about listening before we act. If there’s anything that people in today’s society need, it’s others who demonstrate that they care by being willing to listen.

Listening, instead of “losing it” and giving full vent to our temper, can give us critical information that utterly changes our perspective.

I heard a story of an executive driving a new sports car through a neighborhood, faster than he should have. Suddenly a lad jumped from between two parked cars and smashed his front fender with a large stick. Slamming the brakes, he jumped out of the car and grabbed the kid by the shirt as he began yelling angrily. “What are you doing? This is a new car! Fixing that fender is going to cost a lot of money!”

The young boy was apologetic. “I’m sorry, Mister; but I didn’t know what else to do. No one would stop when I shouted and waved!” With tears rolling down his face, the youth pointed to the curb. “It’s my brother,” he said. “He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.” The boy asked the stunned executive, “Can you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s too heavy for me.”

His anger now replaced by a mix of shame and compassion, the executive helped the brother lift the handicapped boy into his wheelchair. The brothers expressed their thanks and left. The executive silently watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk.

Though the damage where the stick struck the car was very noticeable, the driver never repaired the fender. Its lesson was far too valuable. Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to hit you with a stick to get your attention!

EVERYONE SHOULD BE QUICK TO LISTEN, SLOW TO SPEAK AND SLOW TO BECOME ANGRY

Being “slow to become angry” is something I have to deliberately work at. Much, much more than many people would think. Sadly I’ve seen time and again the truth of the verse that says man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve opened my mouth and spoken angrily I’d be a wealthy man indeed.

That verse continues with an admonition to get rid of evil, and humbly accept the word planted in you. Our pride can easily get the best of us; we want to make our own decisions. But that’s where we need to listen, not just to the people around us, but the God who is above us.

One of the best examples of humbly accepting direction in life comes from NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach. He led his team to four Super Bowlsin eleven years, winning the championship twice. When Staubach retired from football he held the highest career passer rating in NFL history at the time.

What you may not know is that Staubach didn’t call his own plays. He took his orders from football genius and legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry, and initially that bothered him quite a bit. Coach Landry sent in every play of every game. Landry told Roger when to pass and when to run.

Roger had a decision to make. He could allow pride to rule his life and ignore his coach, which would cost him his position on the team. Or he could listen to the coach, benefit from his immense experience and skill, do as he was instructed and become a champion. Staubach said, “I faced up to the issue of obedience. Once I learned to obey there was harmony, fulfillment, and victory.”

We, too, need to learn to face up to the issue of obedience. God speaks. He shares His wisdom, His direction, His provision, His gifts, His grace. He is the one who leads us; and He is the one who enables us to serve Him. Running our own plays may bring some personal satisfaction; but listening to Him and slowing down long enough to get His instruction will make champions of all who follow Him well.

So today’s lessons are simple, really —
Listen Up – Not only to God, but also those around us.
Slow Down – Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to hit you with a stick to get your attention! (Especially God !!! He has some pretty big sticks.)
Chill Out – Our anger doesn’t bring about God’s righteousness.
Follow Orders – Let God call the plays, life works better that way.

That’s how God creates His champions.

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