Are You Listening?

Recently a missionary said: “Violence against Christians is on the increase in every part of the world, the West included. God is removing His restraints, with the result that political oppression, polarization of peoples and ideas and harsh raw violence are surfacing everywhere, and as it was in the days of the early church, men and women are being persecuted and killed simply because they are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than being merely a few isolated instances, such things are increasing in number and intensity and will probably be the prevailing condition of the church in many lands within a few years.”

Did we only hear what was said, or had we really listened? If we truly had listened our reaction would bring more than just a shrug to our shoulders. A first thought would be something to this effect, are my children being prepared to live in such a world?

We are living in an age when from morning til night we hear music, news, gossip, lectures, today’s scheduled events, etc. All this comes by way of radio, television, telephone and face to face conversation. We hear so much, but do we take the time or the trouble to really listen?

Perhaps we should first ask the question: Why should we listen? We counter that question with another, namely, if we do not listen, how can we understand our world, others or even ourselves? People who never listen, never grow. They are stunted, their whole world is no larger than “me myself and I.” 

Listening is needed for communication. How can you communicate if you don‘t take the time or effort to listen? For example, when your husband or friend has said to you “yes, I’ll be happy to join you in your project,” were you also listening enough so that you heard him communicating to you that though he would be happy to be a co-worker, he was also pleading to have you postpone involvement for a little while? Listening is needed to enable us to understand others as well as ourselves.

This leads us to ask: how do we listen? Listening demands our total self, i.e., our attitudes, beliefs, feelings and intuitions. If we think “I know what she’s going to say,” why listen? When we hear a rebellious young boy speaking of parents always quarreling, can you feel this child’s longing for love? For happiness? When we make a statement to the effect that someone ha:s a whole different philosophy of life, can we really listen objectively?

Knowing then that there are these various ways of listening, permit me now to ask you: How do you listen to yourself? Do you hear yourself speaking from the heart, truthfully and sincerely? Did you tell your pastor the sermon was so good, such a blessing, while at the same time knowing you hadnt listened because you kept planning your hours and days of the coming busy week?

Sometimes when we listen to ourselves speak, we hear words spoken for effect rather than content. This can easily be done when in public we are asked to lead in prayer or when we are sitting in a Bible Study group. One day a young lady was giving a devotional talk on the subject of God‘s love. Again and again she repeated “God is love.” Then she went on to say, “I’d sing the character He bears and all the forms of love He wears.” She didn’t understand what she was saying, nor did her audience, but somehow it sounded so good (in her own ears), so impressive.


Indeed, we must listen to ourselves as well as others. But more importantly we must ask why and how do we listen to our God, our Covenant God, our Creator and Redeemer? In a sense we give the impression of being so self-sufficient while at the same time when things go wrong, how quickly we panic or get depressed and forget to listen when God says, “Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. For I the Lord your God hold your right hand, it is I who say to you, fear not, I will help you.”

Again, when God speaks and asks of us to love Him and only Him, to keep a holy sabbath, to honor parents. . . are we listening?

Unless we learn to listen, we will not realize nor will we develop the virtues of compassion and kindness. I challenge you to take some time each day to listen—listen to God, yourself, fellowmen, and your life will be the richer.