Kingdom Principle: Leading with your ears is often 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…. The last two weeks we have focused our efforts on being quick to listen, this week we focus on being slow to speak.
In the Gospels, 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) There are many who try hard as they may to understand the reason for this caution and call not to spread the good news. I am proposing here, that Jesus may be known a thing or two about who to spread the Gospel, and sometimes it is best to lead with your ears and not your mouth. Meaning – don’t say anything – you must learn 2LAF rather than trying to convince others of your own experience. There are various others explanations as to why Jesus says, “Don’t say anything. The most erroneous explanation came early in the 1900’s called the Messianic Secret stating that Jesus himself did not know that he was in fact “The Messiah” (anointed and chosen of God – savior of the world”) 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. This verbal concealment does not announce the good news, because of fear, and there is no fear in love – therefore I throw them out. Jesus is the very image of the invisible God… in His coming to earth 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 for concealment given above are selfish and fearful, neither of which are in line with the Character of God. Two weeks ago it was established that leading with your ears is an act of love. Therefore, Jesus is telling his disciples and those he healed to lead with their ears… telling them to close their mouths.
The “thing” 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 do not care 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, God declares, 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. In a real sense, God is demonstrating that sometime the best way to get people to listen, is by ceasing to talk. Israel is quick with their mouths and slow with their ears – the exact opposite of what James calls us to be. The Psalm is more direct, with regards the tongue, saying those who plot destruction and do not turn to God as their stronghold seek to destroy others with their tongues (the same root word is in verse 2 &7). Finally this week we encounter another passage that is as often misunderstood or misdirected as that of the call to “not tell others about healing or good news” the story of Martha and Mary. Some have made this a passage about the elevation of the role of women as disciples, saying Mary sat at his feet, a place reserved for men. Others profess that this is a passage to highlight our need to “be” and not “do”, saying Mary choose what is better – to sit and not be busy like Martha. The list goes and there is potential and real truth in all the above… But (I propose) that what is being 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 rebuke and instructor of the Lord, telling him what to do and say. If Martha never opens her mouth, (but continues to do her work) 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 are to “SHUT UP!” to LISTEN.
When your mouth open, your ears are closed.
Martha may very well have been listening to the message of Jesus, look back as last week’s post I gave common errors in listening. Martha made them all. 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.
- Distraction is revealed when listening with your mind. (Luke 10:40a)
- Irritation or Upset is revealed when listening with your will. (Luke 10:40b)
- Worry or Anxiety is revealed when listening with your emotions. (Luke 10:41)
(A Bonus Scripture note – read the story of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37) and “Mary & Martha” (Luke 10:38-41) as ONE UNITED story of example of how to be on mission (Luke 10:1-24) and the role of prayer in the mission. (Luke 11:1-13)
Saint Francis of Assisi has another quote that is not as well know – “It is no use walking anywhere to preach, unless your walking is our preaching.” (the other paraphrased is “preach the gospel always, use words when necessary”) Let us have no need to proclaim the flesh, rather let it be crucified, let us walk in the power of the Spirit. Might the healed leper lead with their ears, rather than being rejected with their mouth. 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. WE are called to do act and do the Samaritan did (last week) as well as this week to choose as Mary does to sit and listen at the feet of Jesus.
One moved in action & One moved in contemplation,
One male & One female,
One a Gentile & One a Jew,
Both leading with their ears…..
Jesus is revealing the reconciliation of all things, and these two are leading the way. Paul declares that it is God who has chosen to make known the glorious riches of this mystery. Might we live more fully to move as the nameless man who acted quickly, as well as Mary who was quick to listen, in this we will lead others to be mature in Christ. Let it begin in us as we learn close our mouths and opening our ears – so that our walking is our preaching.
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.