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May 24 – Listen

You may have heard, or used the old phrase, “I could agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.” We laugh at that first, then, we start thinking about that phrase and perhaps we are aghast at how rude it seems to be. (Unless we use it, of course. Then it’s just the blunt truth.) When you really think about it, though, in order to make that statement, you have to understand what the other person is thinking. To do that you have to listen to them. Listening to understand the other person and their point of view seems to be a lost art these days. Too often we don’t listen, or if we do, it’s only to find something about what the other person says that we can argue about.

Wouldn’t it be great if we would learn to listen to other people so that we could understand them again? What a great example followers of Christ would be if we would start the trend of listening to others, especially those we disagree with, so that we could understand their point of view, before we started telling them how wrong they were.

Listening is a great opportunity to get to know people and one of the best ways to approach others in listening was shown by the Jews in Rome. Paul called the local Jewish leaders to him and explained his situation. They noted that they hadn’t heard anything about him. Then they said, “But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.” (Acts 28:22)

How easy it would have been for the Jews to attack Paul without listening to him. They had heard stories about Christianity and the followers of Jesus. It seems like most of them were negative. Instead they took a more honorable path and asked for Paul to share his views. Paul, a prisoner of Rome; Paul speaking about a sect, still, of Judaism that had caused Jewish leaders in the main Jewish city to imprison Paul. Yet they were willing to listen. They gave Paul time to speak to a large number of the Jewish people. Not everyone believed, but some did. The results of the Jews listening were that some believed who might not have had the chance to hear the gospel otherwise. Because they listened, God was glorified as people came to faith in Jesus.

We live in different times now. One of the problems many people have with Christians is that we don’t listen to them. We have our canned spiel to protect people from the fate of hell and we don’t have any idea about the needs of the people we preach at. Perhaps we need to examine ourselves and our methods. If we are going to bring to them a word from God, and the gospel truly is a word from God, we need to listen to God to hear what He has to say. God doesn’t always speak in canned spiels. In order to listen to God’s message for that other person, we need to know and understand them. Often, our canned spiels fly in the face of the other person’s need. If we listen to them and to God, we will be able to speak with them compassionately. If we listen to them, we will earn the right to share the love of God with them. Here’s the challenge: the next time you are ready to share the love and mercy of Jesus with someone, spend enough time with them to listen to them first. Know their hearts. Know their fears. Know their dreams. Then, listen to God and hear how He wants to meet their needs. Then be obedient to Him as you share.

Lord, I need to learn to listen to You and to others. Even when I pray, I often tell you everything I want to say and then sign off without listening to You. Help me to listen to You, and as I listen to You, help me listen to and understand others.


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