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.

In a time and culture where everyone has something to say about everything, James’s words are as needed and true as ever. He reminded first-century Christians—and us today—that before we speak, we should listen. This sounds so simple, and yet we often find it very difficult to actually do. We cannot obey or even speak about a word we have not heard. So, if our desire is to speak the truth of God, we must first and foremost hear it.

We live in a noisy world—constantly bombarded with things to get our attention, including social media, 24-hour news cycles, endless sound bites from any and everyone. Finding a quiet moment can be a fight. Finding the uninterrupted space in our day to sit quietly and hear from our Savior can sometimes feel like the biggest hurdle. If we do find the time, we often find it difficult to turn our thoughts off long enough to actually hear from Jesus. But what if the word of God was the first thing we heard each day? Before we heard from anyone else and before we had anything to say—what if we just listened to what God might have to say to us?

Hearing the word of truth should indeed inform the way we hear others. The more we pause and seek to listen to God before we say anything, the more we have the ability to do that with others. Because the more we hear from God, the more we remember that we don’t have all the answers—we don’t have it all figured out. The more we marvel at the mystery of who God is, the slower we might be to try to solve everything around us. Every problem and every person doesn’t need our opinion. This broken world needs the hope of Jesus. And if we haven’t heard from Him, then we won’t have much to say when we do speak.

• What prevents us from hearing God’s word? What are the other noises that get in the way or impede our ability to hear? When you aren’t hearing from God, how do you respond differently?

• How does that inform the way that we hear others? Where do you have the hardest time listening and not responding in anger?

• Take some time to be quiet. Ask the Lord to give you ears to truly hear—to hear His Word and to hear the hearts of those around you.