My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19 (NIV)
Among other aspects to last Tuesday’s televised presidential debate, the repetitive plea by Chris Wallace—the pummeled moderator—stood out to me. The dear man bordered on begging, hands waving in frustrated gesture.
“Gentlemen, if you would, please give each other two minutes to speak without interruption.”
Anyone else expect Wallace’s black-rimmed glasses to fog and his ears to erupt with steam?
Among the three men, there were interruptions to interrupt interruptions that resulted in a snarled knot of interruptions.
In Job 38:1, “the Lord answered Job out of the storm.”
God then took the next four chapters to state the facts and set the record straight, drawing a clear line of distinction between Creator and creation.
If these four chapters were read aloud—even at rapid pace—it would easily exceed two minutes.
I know because I did it, and it took me just under nine minutes. Imagine if I were incessantly interrupted?
So, here’s where the debate and God’s address to Job are vastly different:
Job wisely respected God as he spoke and kept his mouth shut. I doubt he ever so much as raised a finger for an opportunity to interject his two cents.
It isn’t until chapter 40 before we hear from Job. And that was only because God invited rebuttal. Even then, Job’s response took up a minimal space of two verses:
“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.” Job 40:4-5 (NIV)
Following that, the Lord continued to address Job, all the way to the end of Chapter 41.
For the duration of God’s oratory, Job honored God and let him speak freely, without interruption.
Unlike Job, I am far too quick to interrupt God, fueled by ignorance that I know best or because I itch to have my voice heard.
Restrained by his kindness and compassion, he lets me wallow in the mire of my reasoning until, at long last, I remember his way is perfect and pure, always for my good and for his glory.
At that point, he gently redirects me back to truth.
In chapter 42, Job said, “I admit it…I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking'” (vs 4, The MSG).
However it is we enter God’s presence, let’s sit in humble, reverent silence and listen, giving him as many minutes as it takes until our hearts are aligned with his.
In a world of instant gratification and high speed internet, this is hard. But we’ll be blessed when we make this our regular practice in dialogue with an omniscient and holy God.
✏️If you’d like to receive story-style devotionals and a quarterly author newsletter with giveaways, simply subscribe on the right via email.
✏️ Two of my 2019 inspirational articles that were published in Refresh, Online Bible Study Magazine, are featured in this 40 short Bible studies compilation, The Power to Make a Difference Available on Amazon.