Monday 30 August 2021

Say little and do much

Making religion worthwhile

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. [Bible Gateway: James 1:19 NRSV]

This was part of the first reading in church at the morning Sung Eucharist yesterday, where it led to a sermon about practical Christianity centring on the need to shift the emphasis from teaching to doing.

In many situations we find ourselves too engaged in taking instructions and missing the aspects that are impactful. Knowing the rules might be useful but how does that help the needy? Those in need do not need to hear much more like words will not feed the hungry, however, food will. This can be extended to many other situations in life where we need to be doing rather than talking.

Process what you hear

There seems to be a kind of rhythm to the movement, Quick – Slow – Slow – Repeat! Be quick to listen, hear what is being said, what is being asked for, what the need is, what the desire is, what is being prayed for, what assistance is requested. Be slow to interrupt, to interject, to investigate, to infuriate, or to even invigilate. Depending on what we hear still, we should be slow to anger, slow to lose patient, slow to intolerance, slow to feel indifferent.

Invariably, we are asked to listen and act positively, responsively, sympathetically, in an understanding and accepting way, make allowances, and with a lot of tolerance and patience to share the milk of human kindness in as much as we have the capacity for.

Do not exceed the brief

With reference to an episode of NCIS that I was watching earlier, we can easily slip into analysis and overthinking trying to second-guess a situation presented to us, complicating the issue when all that is needed is acceding a simple request. If we take the time to listen and hear with clarity, there is probably enough in what we have heard to act and nothing more.

Much as we want to be helpful, sometimes what is needed is just limited to what is asked for and except if we have acquired the gift of reading minds, we should just stick to what we have heard until a new request is made.

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