Several years ago, I was at a truck stop in Las Vegas, NV and woke up not feeling well.
After attending to necessities, I walked into the restaurant and took a seat at one of the tables. In just a few moments, a server passed by on her way to another table. She did speak though. She said, “How are you this morning?” My response was “terrible” because as I have said, I did not feel well.
Without slowing down, she continued heading to the next table. However, she did respond to my comment. She said, “That’s good.” In her defense, she did come by later and question what I had said and apologized for her response.
However, the above story illustrates the fact many times, people aren’t really listening. Either they’ve already made up their minds what they’re going to say, or they’re not truly interested in what someone else is saying. Amazingly, even those who claim to be students of the Bible are guilty of this. Yet, the Bible has a lot to say about listening. Consider these passages.
Wisdom personified as a woman calls for people to listen to her advice. She said, “Now then, my sons, listen to me And do not depart from the words of my mouth” (Prov. 5:7).
Solomon advises young people to listen to their parents’ counsel. “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke” (Prov. 13:1).
Repeatedly in the Old Testament, God speaks to his people through the prophets, begging them to listen to his instructions and warnings. “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, You who have been borne by Me from birth And have been carried from the womb” (Isa. 46:3).
God very forcefully made it clear that Jesus was now the authority to which one is to listen: “…This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him” (Matt. 17:5)!
Jesus often began his sermons or parables with an instruction to listen. “After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, ‘Listen to Me, all of you, and understand’” (Mark 7:14).
In the letters written to the churches in Revelation 2-3, Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.
James said that we should be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). Unfortunately, the reverse is usually true. We’re usually slow to listen and quick to speak which directly impacts our anger. So many situations and feelings of frustration and anger could be avoided by just listening.
When it comes to our relationship with others, it’s critical we show them enough respect to listen to them. They have something to say, and they’re important. Paul advised that we consider others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4), and that includes listening to what they have to say.
Many arguments are based upon misunderstanding; therefore, it pays to listen. By listening, we can come to understand the other person. It may be that you thought one thing, but the other person said something else. Listening gives insight into the other person and will prevent many misunderstandings and poor judgments.
Listening also helps to control emotions. Being quiet and hearing the other person can help in keeping your anger in check. Move and speak slowly and deliberately instead of giving in to the heat of passion.
And when it comes to our relationship with God, it’s critical that we listen with the intention of acting upon his instructions. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives an analogy of listen with the intent of obeying or listening without hearing (Matt. 7:24-27).
It does us no good if we hear what Jesus says but don’t obey.
Listening is a lost art among many. May it not be the case with us.