Listening ~ Part 2

The hearing ear and the seeing eye ~ the Lord made them both (ESV Proverbs 20:12). It’s sad we tend to hear and see what we want, or what others present to us, rather than make an informed decision based on His precepts. With all we read of the words of Christ and the wisdom and life giving knowledge that can be ingested, we are no different than the person who, with a healthy, organic feast placed before them, instead opts for a meal of fast food. Proverbs 2:2 says, “Make your ears attentive to wisdom and your heart to understanding.” It’s hard to do that when we have a steady diet of foolish babblings from every corner disguised as wisdom. But it is incumbent upon us to know the difference between what is actually truth and wisdom and that which is lies, innuendo and the voice of evil to lead us astray.

G .K. Chesterton said “There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.” Few seem to know the difference. The ability to truly listen and hear comes with spiritual maturity and heeding His command to pay attention to what He says. We are not to lean on what others may say with words that tickle the ears. These words may hit a nerve, but they lack any profound depth. As I’ve said before, the ditches are filled with those who follow after those who speak empty promises and appeal to our more ignoble instincts. The issue to be questioned is what is in us that would cause us to follow things we should be rejecting outright.

People everywhere are desperate for someone to truly hear what they have to say. The problem is that too many listen only so they can then give their opinion as a comeback. They are not hearing. Most people are then basically repeating what they already thought. They lost the opportunity to learn something and squandered the opportunity to help someone. You’d be surprised how much you can help someone by listening without the need to reply or judge what they’re saying. I’ve had conversations for up to two hours with people I’ve counseled or just friends that needed someone to be there, and probably spoke no more than 10-15 minutes. The quieter you are, the better you hear, and the more someone might actually feel they have been heard. Too many reply because they love the sound of their own voice. The ESV translation states, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is to his folly and shame.” But turn on any debate on cable news and it’s becoming rarer to hear someone actually give a cogent reply to what was just said. Their response was ready to be said regardless of what they heard.

In Mark 4:3 in the parable of the sower, the first word Jesus spoke was “Listen” and was highlighted with an exclamation point. He said multiple times that we have ears to hear but we do not. The Pharisees were given every chance to hear Him but did not. They spent their time trying to trick Him into saying something they could use against Him. Sounds quite like what we hear in politics and the church today. Senior Pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church said, “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” But people continue to talk incessantly without once thinking about listening. This only leads to misunderstanding, quarrels and contention. Kingdom dynamics are pushed aside. Getting one’s way and getting in the last word are all that seems to matter.

James 1:19 says “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” Bridle your tongue and open your ears. The Lord spoke through Solomon in Proverbs 4:20 and said, “Pay attention to My words and incline your ear to My sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are LIFE to those who find them, and HEALTH to all their flesh.” There is a pervasive sickness throughout our country. Take hold of His words and LISTEN. Blessings.