“What did you say?” “Did you hear what he said?” “I can’t believe he said that.” “Why did I ever listen to you to begin with?” “I can’t understand his accent.” “If those teenagers would take those ear buds out of their ears they could hear what I was saying.” It is amazing how many ways we can complain about others not listening to us. Obviously Jesus was concerned about people listening to Him as well. Several times he said, “If anyone has ears to hear let him hear.”
I’ve met several people through the years who had hearing aids and who would turn them up or down depending on who was talking or whether or not the conversation was one they wanted to listen to. It would certainly be interesting to be able to turn off the hearing at will. But one would almost certainly have some times that they missed hearing something important because they weren’t expecting anything to be said that interested them. How can you know ahead of time whether or not something that is going to be said will be worthwhile or not? It is only after it is said and heard that one can decide if it was really something you wanted to tune in to.
Now that I’ve reached the point in life when my hearing seems to be fading and even with the help of a hearing aids it is very difficult to understand what many people say, the Scriptures which talk about hearing and paying attention seem more significant. Jesus in Luke 8 had a large crowd ready to listen to him. As they gathered around he told a story of a sower going about scattering seed. He described four kinds of soil on which the seed fell. Some were on wayside ground, some on rocky ground where the soil was shallow on top of the huge rock, some fell on soil filled with weed seed that would grow up with the good seed and choke it out. And some seed fell on good, fertile ground so that the seed came up quickly and produced fruit. Notice the way Jesus sized up the whole point of people listening. “So He said, ‘The secrets of the kingdom of God have been given for you to know but to the rest it is in parables, so that looking they may not see and hearing they may not understand.” Then he proceeded to explain the different kinds of soil.
What kind of listener are you?Consider some of the options.
Some listen to find a mistake that the one who is speaking may be making. They aren’t looking for an opportunity to learn or grow. It is only to find where the speaker is vulnerable. If someone is looking for an area of weakness they will normally find such an area. Even with Jesus the religious leaders constantly thought they had found a way of attack.
Some are gullible listeners. They are so far to the other extreme from the ones who are critical that they never see a flaw or mistake and believe all that is said even when it is totally mistaken. We can become so carried away the gullible listener that we become careless as the speaker and don’t prepare as well as we should.
Some are careful listeners who not only pick up on what is said, but also pick up on the insinuations that are being pressed. The people of Barea who heard Paul preach were that kind of listeners. They listened carefully then searched the Scriptures daily to see if what they were being told was true. It would be fantastic if we had huge numbers of listeners like these.
What kind of listener are you? Probably you are every one of these at some time and in some situations. I know that I am at different times. I want to be that good, clear listener all the time. But circumstances, people and even how I’m feeling at any given time will greatly affect how well or what kind of listener I am.
The wonderful thing is that we serve a wonderful God who listens closely, clearly and fully all the time. He hears and He answers according to our needs. Thank the Lord.