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How Well Do We Listen?

One night last week I was helping Kensi get bottles prepared before bed. I discovered that there were no more liners for the bottles, so I asked her if we had any and if so, where. Kensi advised that we did have more and then directed me to them, explaining the exact location. In my quest to retrieve them, however, I began walking aimlessly back and forth around the location where I thought she had said, not remembering her exact instructions. Kensi, getting tickled at my wandering, finally came to show me.

It reminded me of the many times I’ve instructed our boys in where to locate something and yet they walked off only to find themselves wandering around aimlessly. It appears that even as adults, we tend to have the same issue. We HEAR the words, but don’t quite LISTEN to what was being said.

How often do we do the same with our Heavenly Father and His word? Think about how many lessons you have heard and the direction and instruction that the word of God provided (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16,17). Yet, did we simply hear the words only to walk around aimlessly afterwards? This is indicative of one who is not getting where God is wanting them to go.

We know how frustrating it is when we try to explain something to another, but no matter how diligent the attempt(s), they still don’t get it.

We must ask ourselves: “How well do we listen?” This speaks to the question of growth.

In the book of Hebrews, the writer provides the imagery of milk and meat in reference to one’s spiritual maturity. The issue that we run into is discerning when milk is good and beneficial and when the need for milk suggests immaturity. Consider 1 Peter 2:1-3.  Peter is reaching out to them and telling them to GROW, to MATURE spiritually by longing for the pure spiritual milk of the word of God. Here’s a beginning point! Let’s ask this: “Is growing in the application of the knowledge of scripture something you desire?”

Not too long ago we were studying the book of 1st Corinthians. In chapter 3 Paul is found saying: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”

The issue that the Corinthians had was their failure to put into action the Christian principles they had already learned. That same issue is found among disciples today.

When we consider our lack of understanding and failure to apply this knowledge, such stems from being “dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:11-14). Meaning one has become “sluggish” (lazy or lethargic) in their hearing.

Rather than ears inclined to hear (i.e. ready to listen, cf. Jeremiah 7:24,26), those who are “sluggish” have become content to wander aimlessly, not finding what they have been instructed to find.

I find it interesting that the boys will say they WANT to know where something is, yet when you reveal the answer, they instantly forget the instruction. We as Christians do this more often than we would like to admit. We say we want to be more like Jesus, striving to walk the narrow path, living holy lives, onward and upward towards heaven, yet fail to really listen to God’s word and carefully follow the instruction given so we can walk circumspectly (cf. Eph. 5:15).

The reality is, we hear what we want to hear.

There is a story about a Native American and his friend who were in downtown New York City. It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with people. Cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, sirens were wailing, and the sounds of the city were almost deafening. Suddenly, the Native American said, “I hear a cricket.” His friend said, “What? You’re crazy. You couldn’t possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise! “No, I’m sure of it,” the Native American said, “I heard a cricket.” The Native American listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a big cement planter where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes, beneath the branches, and sure enough, he located a small cricket. His friend was utterly amazed. “That’s incredible,” said his friend. “You must have super-human ears!” “No,” said the Native American. “My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you’re listening for.” “But that can’t be!” said the friend. “I could never hear a cricket in this noise.” “Yes, it’s true,” he said. “It depends on what is really important to you. Here, let me show you.” He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk. And then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within twenty feet turn and look to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs. “See what I mean?” asked the Native American. “It all depends on what’s important to you.”

Is God and His word truly important to you? If we really desire a Heavenly home, we must be fully engaged to hear with our ears, see with our eyes, and understand with our hearts.

Jesus said, “For the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear” (Matthew 13:15-16).

Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 🙂

About Author

DJ Dickerson

Evangelist | La Porte Church of Christ

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