By: Pastor Tom Stein
“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.”
I was patronizing a local business I don’t like. Their service is lousy at best. I was there to meet a couple of men only because it was a convenient location. There were three of us:
1) Me – an average-sized white man.
2) Another white man from our church. He’s shorter than average.
3) A man who serves in our community. He is African-American and very tall.
We approached the counter and waited. And waited. And waited. Not just for service, but for our existence to be acknowledged. Finally our African-American friend, in a friendly but pointed way, wondered aloud if anyone would ever notice us. With no apology, we were finally served.
Was this racism? I doubt it. Incompetence knows no color. But it was the start of a conversation about life for an African-American man in our culture. This man is not bitter, vengeful, or political. He is serving here because he wants to see the gospel change lives.
Yet I learned much from my time with him — both from standing at the counter with him and sitting over a drink with him. I learned about his world and mine, and I believe I am now living with a little more empathy and wisdom as I consider the clamor in our culture surrounding race.
My point here is quite modest. The apostle James said we should be slow to speak and quick to listen. One of the saddest features of our culture is that we only listen to people who look and think exactly like us. With all of our Internet access and social media, we can go days, weeks, or months and substantively converse only with people who are of our tribe. And when we do run into outsiders, we tend to be quick to speak and slow to listen.
Go to a lousy venue and grab something to drink. Listen. Learn. Other people might not be what you think they are. And you might not be what you think you are.
Lord, have mercy on us all.
Father, thank you that Jesus is the Savior of all who believe.
Help us to follow Him by listening, learning, and loving.