I went out for a quick lunch today. Being by myself, I noticed the interactions of a few couples. One couple was having some intense discussions in the parking lot near their car. She said to the guy she was with, I assume her boyfriend or husband, with her hands thrust down by her side, “You just are not hearing me!” “Oh, I am hearing you loud and clear, you just are not listening to me!” as his arms flew up in air with frustration. Her arms moved from her sides to a tight folding of her arms with a very furrowed brow and eyes in a strong stare looking down to the ground. There was silence for a few moments and I quickly walked by trying to look discreet. I am not sure all that transpired as I walked to my car, but I heard laughter and saw them walking hand in hand to their car. As I was getting in my car, I saw another couple in the car across from mine. She had thrust open her car door, looking like she was both hurt and mad, fighting back tears. Since the car was facing my direction, I could see the guy in the car. He was in the driver’s seat, hands gripping the wheel, staring straight ahead. He did not move. She looked back at him in the car and said something, but he kept staring. She just kept looking at him, I think waiting for a response. He said nothing, did nothing, just kept looking straight ahead. I was curious to see how this drama played out, but I had started my car and was backing out. As I glanced back, she was still looking at him and he was still looking straight ahead. I left wondering what happened, seeing two couples apparently struggling in their communication. As I drove on praying for these unnamed couples with their unknown issues, I found myself praying for their communication and that they would truly hear each other because there is great wisdom in listening.
Actually God desires for us to grow in our listening skills.
James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
To be quick to hear is to truly listen. Too much in conversation we are more eager to get our point across than to hear what the other is trying to say. What we need to do is ‘hear’ what people are saying. That word ‘hear’ in the above Bible verse means to receive and understand the information the other is speaking. It means entering into a conversation hungry to learn what the other is trying to communicate. This kind of hearing takes practice and instead of formulating arguments or responses as someone is talking to us, to listen intently trying to extract meaning out of what is being said. Sometimes it helps once the other has paused in what they are saying to put what they said in your own words and say, “It sounds like you are saying…” and fill in what you think they are saying. That’s called active listening. It means we listen twice as much as we speak. I believe it’s why God gave us two ears and one mouth so we would listen twice as much as we speak.
When we choose not to listen and hear what others are saying, making up our own mind as to what people mean by what they say, we venture into being kind of foolish.
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
That word ‘listen’ is an interesting word in Hebrew. It’s the word ‘shema,’ Shema means a lot more than just the taking in of words or listening. It means to examine, heed, even obey. It is key in our faith with God as we are to ‘shema’ the words of God. If you would like to hear more about shema check out the Bible Project on Shema (https://thebibleproject.com/explore/shema-listen/). God desires for us to ‘shema’ Him, but also ‘shema’/listen to advice, for we can easily slip into foolishness.
Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Proverbs 18:13 If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
Now the wise work at listening and listening well.
Proverbs 1:5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,
Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Proverbs 25:12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
So here’s a challenge this week. Seek to apply the wisdom in listening and in our conversations truly understand what the other person is trying to say.
Church can be a great place to listen to God. If you don’t already have a church you attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. We have just started a new series going through the Bible book of Proverbs and you might find it interesting. Our website has all the information you would need: www.cypresschurch.net. We would love for you to be with us.
Seeking to engage the wisdom of listening along with you,