“Listening is a great art form – watching, discerning, knowing… And it takes time to do that.”

David B. Capes is the cohost of a radio program called A Show of Faith that involves interfaith dialogue about current events. It can be challenging to dialogue with those who disagree with us – but he says there’s treasure in learning to listen first. It takes patience.

“A friend of mine is a very high-powered lawyer. To get at the truth of what happened in an accident, or what he said, or what she said – sometimes it takes months of work to do that.

We have to commit ourselves to months of work in order to get at the truth of what’s going on in our world, in our society. And unfortunately, the way we’re all wired these days is, ‘I want a result now. I want to blame somebody now.’

We’ve got to learn the secret of listening and that comes from wisdom; that comes from God.”

It also comes from being in a genuine relationship with another person. One of David’s best friends is a rabbi. Over 19 years they’ve walked through hard things and built a trust in listening to each other and walking through life together, even though they disagree on certain things.

When does making a moral judgment or assessment cross over to being judgmental?

It depends on our attitude. When you can approach a person or situation with humility, you’re able to make moral judgments without becoming judgmental. It’s the attitude that we bring to it. David explains what he says to himself before engaging with someone else regarding a moral judgment.

Look, I am broken. I am flawed in other ways. I need to recognize that. So before I speak, I need to deal with that. And I need to ask God’s grace and mercy to remove that plank so that I can see clearly to help my brother who has a speck in his eye.”

One final note from David – bringing a correction to someone should not be a cause for gloating.

“We should approach this thing with fear and trembling. If we have the slightest bit of joy or the slightest bit of self-satisfaction, then we should not be the person to speak at all. There should be a tear in our eye. There should be a lump in our throat when these kinds of things happen.”

David’s book is Slow to Judge: Sometimes It’s OK to Listen.

Key Scriptures: Philippians 4:11-13; Matthew 7:1-5

Featured Songs: The Maker by Chris August; Glow in the Dark by Jason Gray; Live Forever by Matthew West

Highlight : Judging versus moral judgments

The art of listening to others