Are You Listening?

HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU HEARD someone say, “Are you listening to me?”

Let’s be honest: in a culture awash in cell phones, social media, and other addictive technologies, we’re losing the fine art of listening.

I don’t mean just hearing. Not simply smiling and nodding while somebody’s mouth is moving. Not merely staying quiet until it’s “your turn” to chime in. All of us are good at that game.

Here’s how James puts it in his letter: “My dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19).

Children suffer most when we don’t listen as they struggle to express their feelings. Deep down in their fragile, inner wells are a multitude of needs, questions, hurts, and longings. The busy, insensitive, preoccupied parent, steamrolling through the day, misses many a cue and sails right past choice moments that may never be repeated.

Or how about people we encounter who don’t know Christ? Here’s a question you’ve never been asked: Have you ever practiced listening evangelism? Unless we’re thoughtful, we usually unload the goods and go for the scalp. But people bruise easily. Sometimes irreparably. Everyone appreciates when we genuinely listen to their stories. That’s what Jesus did any time He encountered someone in need. Like the Samaritan woman who had come to the well for water. After listening carefully to her responses and discerning her need, Jesus tenderly replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water” (John 4:10).

Listening allows us to see deeper into another’s heart. Only then can we offer the help and hope they need.

Solomon said it best when he wrote about having “ears to hear and eyes to see.” He then added this reassurance: “both are gifts from the LORD” (Proverbs 20:12).

Two ears. Two eyes. Only one mouth. Maybe that should tell us something. I challenge you to join me in becoming a better listener. With your spouse. Your friends. Your kids. Your boss. Your teacher. Your pupils. Your neighbors.

The better we listen, the more God can speak through us.

Devotional content taken from Good Morning, Lord . . . Can We Talk? by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2018. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved. The full devotional can be purchased at tyndale.com.


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