At first glance, this verse on listening seems out of place. What does listening to people have to do with taking in God’s word?
As James has already pointed out, temptation is not God’s fault. It is the responsibility of our lusts. The evil desires of our flesh. Although we are made in God’s image and have His spirit dwelling in us, we are also cursed with a sin nature. That sin nature pits us against not only God, but against others. We want what they have. We desire to have power over them. We seek to control.
In order to truly listen to another person, we have to first set aside these lusts. We have to set aside “anger” that stems from not getting our own way, and see what they see. Walk in their shoes. Understand their perspective.
When we do this, we are exercising an incredibly important skill: to separate ourselves from our flesh. To recognize that there is a third character in the boxing ring; the referee. Like a referee, we can decide to set aside our flesh for the sake of the spirit. And listening to other people actually prepares our hearts to listen to God, and to hear His word and transplant that word into our hearts.
God is the author of the word of life, which has been planted within us. The only thing capable of suffocating its fruits is ME. My flesh, lusts, and narcissism. The first step in transforming that dead way of living with true life is a surprise: learn to effectively listen to others.
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
– James 1:19-20