An ancient rabbi once said that we have two ears and one mouth so that we will listen twice as much as we talk. That’s sage advice. The ability to listen well is almost a lost art in Western society. Slick marketing, political rants, and over-the-top speech all scream into the culture because there is such a dearth of listening. It seems that many people are more concerned to make their opinions known than do any kind of deep listening to another in order to discover their true needs and thoughts.
It is really quite tragic that we do not listen to one another. It is downright terrible when we do not listen to God. The Old Testament prophets existed because of a failure to listen. Not only did the people for whom the prophets spoke not hear, but they refused to listen. They put their fingers in their ears and just stood there saying “la-la-la-la-la.” This was not just an inability to listen because they were overworked or too tired. Here is the problem: “For twenty-three years now, ever since the thirteenth year that Josiah was king, I have been telling you what the LORD has told me. But you have not listened. The LORD has sent prophets to you time after time, but you refused to listen.”
God wanted the people to change their evil ways, but they didn’t want to hear it. So, after not only years but centuries of unfaithfulness, after God’s patience was drawn out to its limit, tragic consequences happened. If there is no deep listening to God’s Word, there will be deep repercussions. None of us can do the will of God if we don’t know what God wants. It takes listening. Without genuine listening with the intent to understand and alter actions accordingly, there will be no peace, no love, no grace, but only suspicion, fear, and continued rants with anger. Instead, the beginning of wisdom and human flourishing begins with listening well.
Holy God, your speech goes out into all the earth. Your Word is there for us to hear, if we will only listen. Lord Jesus, let your words and your teaching penetrate so deeply into my soul that your loving ways come out of me in all I say and do. Amen.