My husband likes teaching people to do things. Golf, mechanics, sweeping or whatever it is that he’s doing. When they don’t achieve the necessary skills, he always says, “If they would just listen.” But we often don’t listen. Or if we do listen, we just listen enough to answer with our own thoughts in more-or-less the same subject. We miss so much of what people say when we don’t listen. We are so eager to put in our two cents worth so that we can be heard.
Matthew 11:15, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
This is what Jesus said. We have to open our ears and listen. I have encountered many people who ask a question but never wait to hear the answer. They are already busy answering their own question with their own opinion of what the answer should be.
John 8:42-47, Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”
This is what Jesus said to the Jews who were conspiring to kill Him. It seems that to hear effectively we should have our spiritual ears open. We also have to discern which voices are influencing our minds. When I say voices I don’t mean audible voices, I mean that we have to realize when thoughts are being planted in our minds and where those thoughts are coming from. Are they crowding out everything else in our minds so that we can’t listen when people are speaking, or are they wise thoughts coming from the Holy Spirit?
Then we also have to know when not to listen to people. Some people are just so full of idle chatter that they never get past gossip and we shouldn’t be listening to gossip at all. We should close our ears to things that don’t concern us and that can only cause trouble. We should also not be listening to people who judge others and to people who use unwholesome language.
In addition to listening carefully we also have to watch our own speech carefully.
Ephesians 4:29, Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Colossians 4:6, Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Today I heard a man say, “Lots of people don’t like me because I’m always straight forward.” We must not cross the line between being open and honest, and being downright rude.
Ephesians 4:15-16, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Here it clearly says to speak the truth in love, not to rudely shove words in people’s faces. We should also note that is says to speak the truth, not sugar coat the truth to avoid confrontation. There’s often a fine line between the truth and a lie. It’s not easy and I know I often fall short on the listening side and on the speaking side. When it gets hard, we must remember
Lamentations 3:22-24, Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”