Kingdom Principle: Leading with your ears is thwarted by your mouth
|Amos 8:1-12||Psalm 52||Colossians 1:15-28||Luke 10:38-42|
James 1:19 says that we are to be quick to listen and slow to speak…. Over the last two weeks we have focused our efforts on being quick to listen, this week we focus on being slow to speak. If you have read the Gospels , this concept is not new when encountering the power of Jesus, however it is rarely understood or applied. There have been many explanations as to why Jesus told many of those he healed and his disciples not to tell others what he had done or that he was as the messiah. (Mark 3:12, 5:43, 8:30; Luke 8:56, 9:21, Matt 8:1-4, 16:20, John 7:1-5) The most erroneous explanation came early in the 1900’s called the Messianic Secret stating that Jesus himself did not know that he was the messiah and therefore he wanted to keep his “power” or messiah features a secret. The more common and contemporary explanations range from theological explanations of God’s desire to conceal the truth from the “wise” not wanting the plans of God to be revealed before their time, to the need for Jesus to conceal his power so that people did not rush to him for healing, or for political revolution. These might cause Jesus’ fame to become so great that he would not be crucified as a criminal. But let us not forget that Jesus is the very image of the invisible God… in this there is no act of concealing, rather the act is revealing. It is for this revelation that Jesus was sent to dwell on earth with humanity. The reasons given above are selfish and fearful, neither of which are in line with the Character of God. As I presented in the last post, leading with your ears is an act of love. Therefore could it be… just maybe…? That Jesus was telling his disciples and those he healed to lead with their ears… by telling them to close their mouths. The reality is the thing that most prevents you from leading with your ears is your mouth.
Abraham Lincoln said it well, “It is better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” Keeping your mouth shut, gives you a fighting chance to win over those who seek to destroy you. Those who are rooted in the Spirit will use the power of the tongue to proclaim hope, but as we, this week we see in Amos that Israel brought about their own judgment by saying…. We care not for the poor and needy, nor do we care for the feasts and festivals of God. God reminds them of their frailty and desire to be in control while they refuse to listen to God. Therefore he says, I will speak to you no longer, “a famine of hearing the words of the Lord” will come because you do not listen to me. They are quick with their mouths and slow with their ears – the exact opposite of what James proclaims. The Psalm is more direct, with regards the tongue, saying those plot destruction and do not turn to God as their stronghold seek to destroy others with their tongues (the same root word in verse 2 &7). Finally and explain of leading with your ears or opening your mouth is found in an even more debated and in my opinion often misunderstood passage is the story of Martha and Mary. Is this a passage about the elevation of the role of women as disciples? (for Mary sat at his feet, a place reserved for men) Is this a passage to highlight our need to “be” and not “do”? (for Mary choose what is better to sit and not be busy as Martha did) Is this a passage to demonstrate that service is good, but it must be done at the right time or that we all must discover our gifts? (for Martha was merely fulfilling her call to service and Mary was still discovering her call) Regardless of the potential truths in all the above… what is revealed through the lectionary this week is that when Martha opens her mouth she fails to lead with her ears, in fact, she goes so far as to become the instructor of the Lord, telling him what to do and say. If Martha never opens her mouth, how does the story unfold, we will never know – This is not to say that we are to simply “shut up and stuff our frustrations” rather we discover that when your mouth open, your ears are closed. Martha may very well have been listening to the message of Jesus, but look back as last week’s errors in listening. Martha made them all. (I confess, I had never connected what I wrote as the errors of listen with this passage, but now the connection established. I was simply not listening as well as I needed to be.) Each of Martha’s errors line up with the errors of listing with one’s mind, emotion or will, rather than being rooted or anchored and listening in the Spirit. Being distracted is revealed when listening with your mind, being worried or anxious is revealed when listening with your emotions, and being upset or irritated is revealed when listening with your will.
To close this week, another quote by Saint Francis of Assisi, “”It is no use walking anywhere to preach, unless your walking is our preaching.” If the leper suffers for having a disease, how much more does the healed leper suffer when they proclaim they made whole and no one cares or worse wishes them to be ill again. These are wounds of the soul, mind will and emotion. Let us have no need to proclaim the flesh, rather let it be crucified, let us walk in the power of the Spirit. Let our walking be our preaching, know that this does not silence us, rather it empowers us to lead with our ears and respond with our heart. This certain man who was a Samaritan (last week) and this certain woman who sat at the feet of Jesus lived a life of Love; one in action and contemplation, one male and female, one Gentile and Jew, both leading with their ears….. Jesus is revealing his reconciliation of all things. Paul declares that it is God how has chosen to make known the glorious riches of this mystery, not him. He and we are to disciple and teach others so that all are mature in Christ, let us learn to do so by closing our mouths and opening our ears.
This week when you have the desire to tell someone something that you know to be true, or good advice, seek to lead with your ears rather than your mouth.