Today, with technology we hear different voices, opinions, ideas, counsel, suggestions and advices from multiple sources. With blogs, each person is able to give his/her opinion. Twitter, helps people to provide their sage comments. Online newspapers opens up space for everyone to pour their views. Youtube is the platform for anyone to speak or sing or narrate story or portray drama (mini-films). And the audience is always global. In this wilderness of noises, who are the people listening? God created us with one mouth and two ears. That means we are supposed to hear at least twice as much as we speak. Listening is true spirituality and it is truly missing today. God speaks in whispering voice. (I Kings 19:11-13)
Listening is true spirituality
True spiritual maturity happens only when a person is in a position not just to hear, but to heed also. Many Christians have a misconception that true spirituality is demonstrated by clapping and shouting.
Learning to listen
Samuel was a small boy when his mother Hannah left him to grow under the care of Priest Eli. When the boy heard his name being called, he ran to Eli. Samuel thought it was Eli who was calling him. Eli gradually helps him to listen to the voice of God. (I Samuel 3:9) Apart from performing ceremonies and ritual, Samuel learnt the most important lesson of listening to God. How many parents teach their children the art of listening? Does the church teach the value of listening?
Qualification for discipleship
One of the important qualifications of being disciple of Lord Jesus Christ is to listen. “My sheep hears my voice.”(John 10:27) In the multitude of voices and notices, the sheep is able to discern and hear the shepherd’s voice. The sheep is familiar and acquainted with the voice of the shepherd. If not, the sheep would go astray and perish. The very survival of a sheep depends on its capacity to listen.
Listen in mind and heart
Psalmist writes: “Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this.” (Psalms 62:11) It is a puzzle. It could mean that it is not enough to hear, make the truth relevant by applying and experiencing it. It could also mean hearing in the mind and heeding (obeying) in the heart.
Rebuke for not listening
Peter, John and James missed the greatest conversation in the Church history. In the Mount of Transfiguration, the trio slept when they were expected to be awake, listening and learning. Lord Jesus was speaking to Elijah and Moses regarding his departure, events that would happen in Jerusalem and many other things. (Luke 9:30-31) When the trio woke up, Peter started speaking without knowing the context or the content of the conversation. He got a rude rebuke directly from the Father. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Mathew 17:5) Many times in our worship and prayer meetings, God needs to give this rebuke. For we rarely care to listen to God.
Listening to parents
It is not just enough to heed the voice of God. In the world, God uses various methods to speak to people. Parents are one such tools used by God. The wise writer of Proverbs encourages children to listen to parents. (Proverbs 4:1) Parents have authority as well as desire for the well-being of their children.
Folly and shame
Proverbs states that speaking before listening is folly and shame. (Proverbs 18:13) Listening comes first, then speaking. Unfortunately, today only speaking is done and no one is there to listen. In fact, no one wants to listen at all. Even a fool is considered wise, if he keeps silence. (Proverbs 17:28)
Listening is the source of wisdom
One who listens and in fact seeks truth by asking questions gains wisdom. (Proverbs 19:20) when a person ceases to listen, he would stray from the path of knowledge and wisdom. (Proverbs 19: 27) One who listens to the Word of the Lord and lives according to it, is compared to the wise man who built his house upon the rock. (Matthew 7:24-27)
Listening to others
As Christians, we should be listening. Many relational problems in the family and in social life could be easily solved by listening. By listening, we show that we care and also help our brothers and sisters to unload their burdens. (Galatians 6:2)
Listening is a spiritual discipline, it has to be cultivated. It is also a skill that should be learnt, developed and deployed. It is also an art, that could be mastered by practice. The world has seen too many speakers, let Christians demonstrate they could be great listeners also.