Restoring Relationships: Use Your Ears More Than Your Mouth
By Rick Warren
— March 3, 2018
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11 NIV).
The third biblical step toward restoring a relationship is to sympathize with the other person’s feelings.
Use your ears more than your mouth. Before attempting to solve any disagreement, you must first listen to the other person’s feelings. Paul advised, “Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own” (Philippians 2:4 GNT). The phrase “look out for” is the Greek word skopos, from which we form our words “telescope” and “microscope.” It means to pay close attention! Focus on the other person’s feelings, not the facts. Begin with sympathy, not solutions.
Don’t try to talk people out of how they feel at first. Just listen and let them unload emotionally without being defensive. Nod that you understand, even when you don’t agree. Feelings are not always true or logical. In fact, resentment makes us act and think in foolish ways. David admitted, “When my thoughts were bitter and my feelings were hurt, I was as stupid as an animal” (Psalm 73:21-22 GNT). We all act beastly when hurt.
In contrast, the Bible says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11 NIV). Patience comes from wisdom, and wisdom comes from hearing the perspective of others.
Listening says, “I value your opinion, I care about our relationship, and you matter to me.” The cliché is true: People don’t care what we know until they know we care.
To restore fellowship, “we must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others . . . Let’s please the other fellow, not ourselves, and do what is for his good” (Romans 15:2 TLB). It is a sacrifice to patiently absorb the anger of others, especially if it’s unfounded.
But remember, this is what Jesus did for you. He endured unfounded, malicious anger in order to save you. “For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, ‘The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me’” (Romans 15:3 NLT).
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Talk It Over
- Learning to listen before speaking takes practice. Make a point of doing it today in all your interactions, and note what difference it makes in you and the other people.
- Are you willing to take on the burden of listening and absorbing someone’s anger or frustration? Why or why not?
- Why is it important for people to feel understood, even if you don’t agree with them?
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