A friend shouted at me because he suspected I had a different political opinion. You too? They say it’s going to get worse, no matter who wins the election. But it does not need to get worse around you. Not if you apply this simple principle, from Jesus’ little brother, Jimmy.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (James 1:19)
In arguments, most people pretend to listen while mentally lining up devastating rebuttal arguments. Listening is more than no moving your mouth. Real listening strives to understand. People raise their voices when they don’t feel understood. If you quietly listen without criticizing, defending yourself or doing anything except try to understand what the other guy really means, he’ll settle down in a hurry. Especially if you sincerely ask, in your own words, “Is this what you are trying to say?” Once he knows you understand – really understand, even though you may not agree – most of the time the shouting will stop. He may even be willing to listen to you.
What would happen if everyone who follows Jesus took the lead in applying that principle in our divisive circumstances? Jesus said,
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)