I have come to realize the importance of listening. Many people hear, very few listen. Jesus says in Luke 8:18 “So take care how you listen…”
It made me think about how I listen. I mostly listen with a ‘worldly ear’, taking part in all the negative discussions about a host of subjects including the political situation of the day; the economy; crime; ISIS and how the Muslims are going to take over the world and how unjust the world has become. All these negative discussions surround us without anybody giving any constructive input. I realized that joining the world in its negativity and criticism is not a good place to be as this is the breeding ground for worry and fear. Fear about the future, fear for one’s safety… all in direct contrast with what Jesus said in Matt. 6:34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Sometimes I listen with my ‘me ear’. I listen with my own needs and wants foremost in my mind, in direct contrast with 2 Peter 1:6 “Next, learn to put aside your own desires so that you will become patient and godly, gladly letting God have His way with you. This will make possible the next step, which is for you to enjoy other people and to like them, and finally you will grow to love them deeply. The more you go on in this way, the more you will grow spiritually and become fruitful and useful to our Lord Jesus Christ’. (Life Application Bible – Living Bible text) This was a hard word for me to understand and yet, the meaning is very clear. With my own desires always upfront, God can’t have His way with me, I will be impatient with other people as they don’t live up to my expectations and then I can’t enjoy them, or like them … nor can I love them. The one step follows on the other. So the statement I often hear from Christians ‘I love you but I don’t need to like you’ is unbiblical.
Very seldom do I listen with a ‘Godly ear’. I had to do a reality check in my own life. When I have my quiet time which ‘ear’ do I put on? Do all the noise at the carnival of this world distract me from hearing what God wants me to hear? Do I forget not to worry about tomorrow or do I actually enjoy worrying? Or do I listen with my own agenda and desires upfront, cramming out God’s word?
I realised that when Jesus says “So take care how you listen…” that there is a promise when we obey in the way we listen. The rest of Luke 8:18 spells it our quite clearly “So take care how you listen …for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” This statement of Jesus has nothing to do with money or possessions but everything to do with our spiritual status. When I listen with a godly ear, (putting aside the world and my own desires), and ask God for His wisdom, insight and understanding about a particular situation or problem, and provided that I am obedient and do His will as he instructed me after I asked (See James 1:5-8 + 25 and James 2:12) , then God will bless me with even more….more money? No! with more insight, wisdom and understanding and ultimately more fruit. The fruit will show whether the ear we have offered the Lord was ‘a good thing’ or a ‘God thing’. That is why the fellowship and advice of other believers are so important ( I have been praying with a small group of men for the past 25+ years where we keep one another accountable). So often I am mislead when I think it is a God thing, only to find out it was a me thing! My wife Anita is here my biggest ‘check and control’… good or God?
Let me therefore not just hear, but take care how I listen… it could determine whether I walk this life anxious and in fear; or whether I walk it in Godly faith with His peace reigning in my heart, not worrying about tomorrow… for tomorrow will take care of itself.