We need to “TALK less than we listen; and LISTEN less than we DO”
Pastor Dan Borgelt
Kirkmont Presbyterian Church
Beavercreek, Ohio 45434
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT (at the top):
– Think of 3 people that you’d like to get to know better (and listen 2x as we talk)
– At least once this week, save as much time to LISTEN to God as you TALKED to Him
I’ve met a wonderful man who is truly the BEST “teacher” I’ve ever encountered: he’s authentic, he is REAL, honest, intelligent and in touch with his listeners –he is concise and easy to understand. So… whether you’re ambivalent, totally turned OFF, or turned ON to what the Bible has to say about LIFE, you will be both informed and enlightened. You’ve nothing to lose except 30 minutes of time each week. This is the SECOND of a series on the Book of James.
Listen to AUDIO as you read TRANSCRIPTION below:
“The other day I was looking at this particular church on the internet and they had one most interesting tag lines of any church I’ve ever seen. When you get to the website you see this tagline:
“We are a church for people who have given up on church but not God”
The truth of the matter is that we all know people who love the church and love God; we know there are people out there who don’t like church and don’t like God; we even know that there are people who like the church, but don’t like God… BUT I think that the largest, fastest growing group, the number of people out there WHO DON’T LIKE CHURCH.. WHO’VE GIVEN UP ON THE CHURCH, BUT HAVEN’T QUITE (at least not yet) GIVEN UP ON GOD.
So I’ve come up with my Top 5 Reasons People Have Given Up on Church:
#5. They think that the church is an unsafe place – we’ve all seen the news of some really corrupt and wicked people have found their way into the church and hurt people and done a lot of damage… and many say, that church is an unsafe place… no thanks; and they’ve written off the church.
#4. Church is all about money – we’ve all heard the stories of how churches have mishandled money; so they say, “Hey, I’ll do religion and I’ll do God at home and I’ll keep my money safe.` Thank you.
#3. Church is an uncomfortable place – For me, it’s not in my nature to want to stand and sing out loud in front of other people. And for many, to come and sing in front of others especially when folks around them are raising their hands and closing their eyes… that’s uncomfortable to them. They don’t when to sit down, or stand up or what prayer’s going to be said next… Thank you but I’ll just have my own thing with God at home and save myself the discomfort.
#2. Church is seen as boring or irrelevant – there’ve been too many naps taken during the service and people who’ve stayed awake found the message to be irrelevant so why would you go through all the hassle of getting ready and going through all of the other concerns we just talked about if the place is boring and irrelevant?
But I think that the #1 reason why people have given up on the church but not on God is because they’ve decied that the
#1. Church is a place where there’s too much talking and not enough doing.
We’ve got time to talk, gossip, criticize, judge… but we might not have enough time to DO !!!
And that my friends is exactly what we’re going to be talking about this morning as we continue in our series through the Book of James.
Those here last week will remember that we introduced a new series. We are going to be going through the Book of James up until Easter time; we did the first part last week. If you happen to miss last week, no problem, we’ll recap for you.
WEEK #1 RECAP:
James, the half-brother of Jesus is the one who’s writing this message… and James has a story in his life that many of us can relate to… and that is he went through a season where he doubted that Jesus was who He said He was and who other people were saying He was. And then when James saw the resurrected Christ he knew `undeniably who his brother was and placed his faith in him.. and HIS ENTIRE LIFE CHANGED.
And I share that with you because for those of you who might be the skeptic or the doubter out there this morning I want you to realize that you’re never beyond the point of coming to faith and having a relationship with Jesus Christ; because even his own half brother went through the same thing that you’re going through.
So… I think James in our section today is going to tell us, look…
We need to talk less than we listen, and we need to listen less than we do.
Here’s what the Scripture tells us in James 1:19-21
Listening and Doing
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.:
Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak”.
That word “everyone” should challenge everyone in this room because if you’ve been in the church world enough you realize we have a way of scooting out from underneath some of the Biblical expectations that God sets before us… we’ll say things like, “Well, God created us all a little bit different… so that’s not my thing.. that’s their thing.
We’ll things like, “That’s that person’s spiritual giftedness…” “Oh you wanna talk to me about being generous.. well that’s not my spiritual gift.. that’s someone else’s.” “You wanna talk to me about being kind to my neighbor… that’s not my spiritual gift, that’s someone else’s.
Now look, God did create us uniquely and individually and it is true that some of us are gifted in certain areas uniquely than others.. but THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS IN THE BIBLE WHICH GOD HAS CLEARLY COMMUNICATING THAT THIS IS AN EXPECTATION FOR EVERYONE WHO CALLS HIMSELF A FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST… and this is one of them.
That we should ALL (not just some of us) BE QUICK TO LISTEN AND SLOW TO SPEAK.
This is personally challenging to me because I consider myself an addict to talking. I mean I have a talking addiction; I measure off the charts when it comes to the “E” in extrovert; I love talking and was constantly my whole life in school getting in trouble for talking. And now the Bible is saying, “be slow to speak… quick to listen”.
When I was in 8th grade we had a yearbook… how many of you had a yearbook where you could get awards… where they’d say, “MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED” … for example. My yearbook in 8th grade there were about 10 areas you could win. And.. I’m just gonna say, “I won three of them”. I’m gonna name the list and I want you to guess which one:
BEST BODY – I didn’t win that one… that shouldn’t have been in the yearbook (laughter); that is so inappropriate.
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
MOST LIKELY TO BECOME PRESIDENT
MOST LIKELY TO BECOME RICH
MOST LIKELY TO WIND UP IN JAIL
Now look, I’m not going to tell you the third one, but I got the award for the last two: MOST TALKATIVE and BEST LISTENER. I didn’t think anything of it at the time.. I was just so happy that my name was in the yearbook; and a teacher pointed out to me a couple days later loudly asking HOW DOES THE SAME PERSON WIN BOTH “BEST TALKATIVE AND “BEST LISTENER”… and I thought, you’re right that’s a good point.
Because the truth of the matter is that when we are engaged in conversation with someone we either care more about them and listen twice as much as we speak, or we care more about ourselves and we talk twice as much as we listen.
And here the Scripture is saying, we ought to all be ‘quick to listen, slow to speak’.
Oh.. btw, before I move on, after the first service one of the kids came up to me and said, “Is the third one you won most likely to go to prison?” (laughter) And you know when you can’t tell for sure when one’s kidding or not… so I didn’t laugh, I just said, “No, no it’s not” (continued laughter)… “have a nice day”. That’s when I would’ve really rather appreciated just “Good job, pastor”… that’s what you’re supposed to say on your way out the line.
What does QUICK TO LISTEN mean? Everybody knows that you can only listen as quickly as someone is talking to you. I remember one time I was in college I’d got my first job at a church and just like we saw earlier up here I was assigned the task of doing the children’s message; and I didn’t grow up in the church, some of you know my background, and so it was all kind of a new thing. But after I got a few children’s messages under my belt my mom decided she would visit me in college and see her boy up front at church.
So she came and visited, I was a little extra nervous that morning, but I thought the message was going well, but one of the boys apparently didn’t. He shout’s out… not being called on, loud enough for the whole congregation to hear, he says, “YEAH, YEAH, YEAH… GET ON WITH IT” (laughter). I mean what do you do when someone… perhaps he had just read James Chapter 1, “be quick to listen”… but that’s not what James means.
WHAT DOES “QUICK TO LISTEN” MEAN?
If I said, God wants you to be: “quick to LOVE, or quick to FORGIVE, or GIVE…” there might be a timing component to it, but what we really mean is we want that characteristic to become so REAL and so apart of who you are that it’s second nature… it just happens, you become a loving, forgiving, giving person and James is saying that’s what I want for you… that LISTENING to people.. shutting up long enough to listen to people becomes part of your Godly character.
This is tied into the Gospel… for those of us who claim to be followers of Christ, this is connected to who we claim to follow. For Jesus was somebody who cared more about OTHER people than himself… that is the GOOD NEWS, that’s why many of us worship here, because Christ who had nothing to gain from leaving heaven had nothing to gain from purposely and intentionally dying on the Cross for our sins, came and did it anyways because he cared about you and I and knew that we desperately needed Him. That is the character of Jesus Christ… and I am confident that if any one of us could have the opportunity to speak to Him, and many of us someday will in all of eternity, we will discover that He was quick to listen and slow to speak, even though he was omniscient and knows everything.
If there was anyone in all of eternal history who had the right to say, “Why don’t y’all be quiet and let me speak”, it would be Jesus, the Son of God. But it’s not his character… he’s a loving and caring God who puts others before him and when we talk twice as much as we listen we tell people we’re more important than you; but when we listen twice as much as we talk we tell someone you’re more important than me… AND THAT IS THE CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST.
Some of you are ruining your relationships: husbands with wives, wives with husbands and parents who are ruining their relationships with their children because they cannot embrace the fact that God gave them TWO EARS AND ONE MOUTH and they should speak in proportion.
James is inviting us to embrace the character of Christ… to be that person who cares FAR MORE about other people than ourselves by LISTENING more than we speak.
We find out from the next section of Scripture that James is not only concerned about listening to other people, but he’s ULTIMATELY concerned that we listen to something else… not just concerned that we listen to it but that we DO it as well.
In James 1: 22-27 the Scripture tells us this,
“Do not merely listen to (what? … not just other people any more, but do not merely listen to) THE WORD and so deceive yourselves; DO WHAT IT SAYS. Anyone who listens to the Word and does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like, But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this not forgetting what he has heard, but DOING IT, he will be blessed in what he does. If anyone considers himself to be religious (I’ll just pause and let you decide if that applies to you), and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, HE DECEIVES HIMSELF and his religion is worthless, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
God isn’t just concerned with us listening to other people, He wants us to GROW in our ability and our willingness to LISTEN TO HIM through His word, through THE BIBLE… for that to become second nature to you and me.
You see when LISTENING becomes second nature to us, not only do our relationships with other people benefit, but first and foremost our relationship with GOD benefits from becoming someone who listens twice as much as we speak.
It comes then through HIS WORD, through the means of PREACHING, BIBLE STUDY, reading your own Bible in your own time; we come to it with a humility that we didn’t have before, anticipating and expecting God to speak to us through that time.
The same is true not only when we look at the word, but when we pray as well. As I said before, I am a “talking addict”, and it shows up in my prayer life. I think that is the biggest thing for me personally that I’m taking away from this passage this week, that God is challenging me by the fact that I talk almost exclusively to God in prayer and almost never stop. And I hear people say things like, “And God said to me..” and for a long time it just would frustrate me… but I think that at the core of it, I’m actually just a little bit jealous. Because I’m not one of those people who I feel that God speaks tome very much. And of course I think His response would be, “WELL THEN LISTEN… you don’t ever listen, you come to me, you talk, talk, talk, talk, and then you go on with your day.”
There’s so much more we could say about James not only wanting us to listen to others but also listen to His Word, but we’re also reminded that we not only want to talk less than we listen but we also want to LISTEN LESS THAN WE “DO”.
Charlie really brought this out well in the children’s lesson.. that we don’t just TALK less than we LISTEN, but once we HEAR God’s Word then that has to be put into ACTION otherwise we miss something completely.
There are SO MANY ways that churches mess this up… I’m moving from personal application to the church. Let me say that again… there are so many ways that churches do not DO more than they listen… they end up listening far more than they do. They’re great at listening to God’s word; churches are filled with Bible studies and small groups and Sunday School classes… all kinds of avenues to dive into Gods word; but so many are lousy at moving from listening to it to DOING IT.
We have a wonderful staff person here, Pat who’s total focus is Christian Education and I’ve no doubt that she has built a solid program here, but I’m taking the opportunity to remind all of us of the warnings of this passage as it pertains to Christian education.
When I was interviewing and applying for this position the search committee reminded me that there’s a lot of smart people at this church… and there’d probably be a lot of smart people at any given time on session who have great advanced degrees and have done wonderful things and been very successful.. and they said, “How are you going to feel about that?” … I don’t know what they were implying.. but (laughter). As if they kinda realized I wasn’t a perfect fit for that… I don’t know. But I said, “Look, I don’t need to be the smartest guy at session… I’m a spiritual leader; I don’t need to be the smartest person in the sanctuary, I’m called to be a spiritual leader.
And my warning for those of you who consider yourself to be academics.. if you will… is that the temptation is to dive into the Scripture and to study, study, study it and to never get to the place were you start applying it.
If you teach a small group, a Sunday School class or a Bible Study of some kind here at Kirkmont here God’s Word imploring you to never divorce the idea of studying God’s Word and challenging your group with practical application. There is no such thing as: these people STUDY God’s Word and these people PUT IT TO PRACTICE. If you show me a Bible study that has met long enough without putting God’s Word into practice, I can guarantee to show you a Bible study that God has left a long time ago.
I’m convinced that there are hundreds if not thousands of Bible studies across our country that have met for years and years and years, and they have no idea that God left a long time ago. HOW LONG SHOULD WE EXPECT GOD TO BLESS A GATHERING OF BELIEVERS IN THEIR STUDY OF HIS WORD BEFORE THEY START PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE. You can’t blame Him can you?
So we mess this up in so many ways… we mess it up preaching. I was so challenged thinking about this passage; I wanted to blame all the Christian Education people and I thought “DAN… how many times have you preached a sermon without giving someone practical application to respond to it. And so, that’s what I want to do in our time to close… quickly.
I want to give you TWO CHALLENGES… one regarding your relationship with other people, and one regarding your relationship with God:
As we try to put this passage which we just heard into practice. If you’re a pen and paper person, this would be a wonderful time to do that (laughter)… pastors always feel really good when people write stuff down.
– THINK OF 3 PEOPLE WHO YOU FEEL THAT GOD MAY PUT ON YOUR HEART TO GET TO KNOW BETTER…
1. someone from the church,
2. someone from your neighborhood, and if you work,
3. someone from your workplace work.
I want you to take this passage from James and say, “How will my relationship with that person look different if I’m SLOWER TO SPEAK and QUICKER TO LISTEN? …and I get to know them because THEY matter… their needs come first. I’d love to hear some of your stories of how God will bless those efforts.
This week find a time where when you go to God in prayer, you leave just as much time to TALK to Him as you do to LISTEN to Him. If you don’t pray at all this week, you’re not going to be able to accomplish the challenge. But you don’t have to be a super-religious person. Maybe you’re here today and saying that’s not me… you can still accept the challenge to say ONE TIME this week “I’M GONNA GO TO GOD AND PRAY” If you’re someone who prays twice a day… that’s great. And I’m not putting a time constraint on it. Maybe you can only commit to a 2-minute prayer… one minute to talk to God; one minute to be quiet and listen. Maybe you’re the kind of person who prays for half an hour… 15 minutes to talk to God, 15 minutes to listen.
I’m not saying that’s the only way to pray, and that’s what you have to do for all of the rest of your life by any means… I’m just saying to accept the challenge for one week and just see how it goes.
James is saying in infinite wisdom from God, led by the Holy Spirit that that’s how we ought to engage in our relationship with Him
Well, if I keep talking, I’ll feel hypocritical… so let’s close in prayer.
“Father, we thank you for your Word, as always; we’re reminded even in this passage of Jesus.. it ALL points to Him, and we thank you for his character. The heart of this passage it feels like you love selflessly and put other people before yourself and that’s not our nature, that’s not our character. As sons and daughters of Adam and Eve we are prone to put ourselves first, and to make ourselves the center of everything, and Father WE PRAY AGAINST THAT.
And for those who’ve already through this message have begun to embrace this challenge set before them; I just want to pray for them that you would help them not only to commit now in this moment embracing this challenge, but to follow through with it and that You would honor that and bless that and speak to them in that midst, in that time. We ask all these things this morning in Christ’s Name.”
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All Pastor Dan’s Sermons: