Seek First To Understand Then To Be Understood, Pastor Phil Sessa

James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires”


God gave us all two ears and only one mouth. I think by our mere creation, God has designed us to do twice as much listening than we do speaking. First we must be quick to listen. Are you a careful listener, intent listener? Husbands do you give your wife your undivided attention when called upon by them during a time when they need your ears to just listen and not your mouth of advice?

Your communication with your spouse should be a two-way conversation that involves time effort, intention (what’s in their heart), sending clear messages, and understanding clearly. Your communication with your spouse involves more than a speech but voice tone, eye contact and body language. Does your face, your eyes say I love you when your mouth speaks those words?

Men are fixers for the most part, and when our wives share something with us, they many times don’t want us to fix the problem but rather listen to their feelings concerning the problem. I wouldn’t want to be treated like a project that needs fixing. Many times in marriage, arguments are due to misunderstandings or miscommunication, and sometimes flat out bad, or even no communication. When we are quick to listen, we engage our ears and our mind. We shouldn’t treat our wives words like background elevator music, hearing vice tones but not processing their words. Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” We learn much more by listening to our spouses then. Formulating our next response in our minds, just waiting for them to breathe or pause so we can blurt out our response is not listening. This is why James says to be not only quick to listen but also slow to speak. This is to bring proper balance lest we are quick to listen and quick to speak. Seek first to understand then to be understood.

Have you ever tried to reflectively listen when spoken to, that is try and reiterate or sum up what you think is being said back to your spouse? What is she really trying to communicate to me? Does she feel uncared for when I ….? Does she feel unwanted or unappreciated when I do.? The more you listen to her the more you will understand her at her core. That is why Jesus stated, “…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). You can tell someone’s heart by listening to their words, views, concerns, cares, interests, etc.

In 1Samuel 3:1-10 we see that God was trying to speak to a young boy Samuel who God would call as a prophet. For some time Samuel kept thinking that Eli was calling him. It’s the Lord who was calling Samuel three times before it was realized that God, not Eli was trying to speak to him. The LORD came and stood there, calling as other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, Speak, for your servant is listening.” Samuel said speak, for your servant is listening. Wow, how we too should respond to God that way, be quick to listen to God and slow to speak (interrupt) Him. That same attitude can be applied to our spouse. What I’m not my spouse’s servant I’m God’s servant you may say. Jesus said instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be a servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. (Mark 10:43-44)

My pastor shared with me something that I would like to echo to you. He said you know about half of yourself, and God is going to use your wife to learn the other half. Wow! That is similar to what Evans shared about when he asked what if God brought you and your wife together not to make you happy as His first priority but to make you holy. Who will know you better than your wife? You and your wife are the best students of one another.

Application: Be a servant to the Lord and your spouse, and be quick to listen to them, hearing their true heart, and seeing the privilege of them speaking to you. God should be listened to first and your spouse second. Pastor Phil

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