Why Listen?

01/12/2007

These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far away.
Matthew 15:8 (NLT)

He was a young man…he had just flown in on the same flight as me. I hadn’t seen him on the plane, but he was headed to the same baggage claim area as I was. He had an excited look in his eyes, probably traveling home for Christmas to be with his family. I spotted him later, standing with what looked to be his parents. He uttered a few words, then stood silent as his words fell on deaf ears. It seemed to not matter what was going on in his life as his father quickly began to tell some story that could top the one his son had began to share with the family…

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters,
You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
James 1:19 (NLT)

People want to tell their story, but not so many are willing to listen. When we do take the time to listen, there is so much to be learned about another’s heart. How is that done? It can start with a simple question, and then listening intently to the answers being given. In this world, words are important, but silence can speak in even greater degrees. We are fixers, we are movers, we are shakers, we are…busy!! But in all of that, we are missing so very much. Sometimes God calls for silence from our lips, so that He can have our hearts in an even deeper way.

We can’t possibly absorb another person and understand their heart if we won’t keep our lips quiet long enough to hear what’s inside of them. It is the same with our Lord, if our lips are always moving, if our words are too many, we won’t be quiet long enough to gain God’s wisdom along the way. We will lack the understanding of God’s ways. God wants us to desire His wisdom and His flowing of the Holy Spirit through us to those around us so that they can know Him and see Him and desire Him when all the words about everything else in their lives have been spent.

You see, underneath it all, there is a hunger for God in people’s hearts, and we can miss it. People hunger for God’s Love, and we don’t want to miss the opportunity to share His love with them by busily talking over it. There are great things learned in silence—until He asks us to speak. If we really want to share our lives with someone else, and most importantly to share God’s Good News with someone else, we have to listen to their stories first--it’s just the way we’re wired. Most of the time we’re all too full of all the busyness in our own lives to absorb anything else.

Look at our relationship with our Lord--we want Him to hear our story first, and sadly, we sometimes then run off before we’ve even given Him a chance to speak, to tell us what He’s doing, how He’s working in our lives, all that He would like us to know about His love for us and care for us…much of the time we don’t even stop long enough to open up His Word and read about His stories, His people, their experiences and all that they learned.

We can’t hear God, if we won’t listen.
We can’t know our Lord’s heart if we aren’t quiet long enough to hear Him.
We can’t know our “neighbor” if we won’t ask the questions, and then stop our minds and our lips from moving while they answer. With just a few words spoken to a heart that has been listened to, there can be a filling up of the Truth of God.

There are blessings that we don’t want to miss, by being a good listener. Little by little, God will show us how to listen to those around us if we will start by learning to listen to Him, and by honoring Him with not only our lips, but with our hearts.