Are you a good listener or a poor one? How do you know?
I have learned over thirty-two years of marriage that one of the hardest things to do in a relationship is to listen. My intuition and experience lead me to believe that listening does not come naturally to human beings. Most of us love to talk and even hear ourselves speak. Yet to focus in on what someone else is saying takes a whole lot of effort.
Whether I was trying to listen to every detail of my child’s description of their day of school, or paid attention to my wife as she carried in groceries and asked me a question…while I watched the end of a ballgame on TV, it is tough to listen for very long. Not to mention actually hear what they say and be able to engage in the exchange.
Why bother? Well, I have learned that listening demonstrates my love. When we do something like that, it can model that we care for the person. If listening were easy, it would be a lot less loving. But the hardest part of love is doing things that do not come naturally. When we do something that is tough, we demonstrate how much we love someone.
Scripture indicates that we can demonstrate our love for God by listening to Him. I suggest that to “listen” is a synonym for to “obey.” In this context, I mean that we should listen to the words that God has spoken to us through the Bible and act on them.
Read Proverbs 8.
Proverbs 8 personifies godly wisdom as a woman calling for listeners on a busy street. Imagine the noise and hustle-bustle of an everyday road. We don’t know how many customers she drew, but odds are it was few. People have not changed much over time.
Maybe wisdom needed a better marketing strategy. Who really needs or wants to listen to the demands of wisdom? Chances are she would require people to do things they did not want to do so they could achieve long-term health and success. After all, who wants to wait for something when they can get it given to them in real time these days? Why sweat, work at it, even persist, when you can cut corners, cheat, and depend on an entitlement?
Listening to God’s Word – His Wisdom – focusing on each word, understanding its implications and intentions, wrestling with its application – is as tough as listening to people. But I believe it is worth it just the same. The writer of Proverbs 8 says the goal is to gain wisdom and life.
As with any discipline, listening gets easier with practice. As you learn to pay attention, you will get better. You’ll have to confront the reality that listening is difficult and will require effort and a willingness to work at hearing the person you are with. But regardless of who it is, are you willing to get better at listening? Why not start today? Commit yourself to the labor of listening – to friends, family, and to God. Nothing says, “I love you” like saying nothing and listening instead. Honor people by paying attention. Honor God by listening daily (v 34) to obey.
Jesus said in Luke 11:28, “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.” Grow devotionally. “Listen” is an active verb. Hearing God leads to favor from the Lord.
Love is a verb,
©2014 by Mike Olejarz