The Importance of Listening
by T. Sean Sullivan
How significant is listening? Listening is the fullness of hearing. It is possible to hear someone talk and not listen. In order to hear and listen, one must be paying attention. My wife becomes very annoyed with me when she speaks and I do not listen. Perhaps I am distracted by some other noise or voice or whatever I am currently involved with; I can hear her talking, but I do not listen. The lesson I learn is that my wife is like most everyone else—she does not like to repeat herself after she has said it once. I should give her my attention and listen.
Jesus would often end His teachings with the statement, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” We need to open our ears, and pay attention. We need to listen to some important things in this life. Many opportunities for “listening” come along only once in a lifetime. It is regretfully too late when we find ourselves saying, “I should have listened…” Let’s consider some of those things and why we need to open our ears to hear them.
We Need To Listen To God
Our God is a communicator. He has seen fit to reveal His will to mankind in the form of words (James 1:17-25). We have His words preserved for us, even today—the Bible is the word of God. According to those “words” the section known as the New Testament is our source of God’s teachings for today.
We need to listen to the word of God as we have it here in this volume (the Bible), God will not send it again—He will not repeat Himself. Jude 3 tells us “the faith” was once delivered for all. Hebrews 1:1-2 states that “God has spoken… in these last days through His Son”. The words for these last days—the words of Jesus Christ are exclusive to the New Testament (John 8:31-32; John 12:48-50; John 14:23-26).
Why listen to God? The will of God (His word) is about you. The preparation and possibility of your salvation is plotted from Genesis 1:1 throughout the Old Testament and comes to life in the New Testament’s examples, instructions, warnings and promises. The salvation of mankind is the theme of the Bible, from its beginning to its end. You, being part of mankind, are the focus of the Bible.
You cannot succeed without God (Proverbs 14:12; Jeremiah 10:23). God has given you what you need to succeed (Psalm 19:7-11; James 1:21-25). True success in this life is searching for and finding your Creator (Acts 17:25-31). True success in this life is the salvation of your soul (Matthew 16:26). True success in this life is preparing for eternal life in Heaven (John 14:1-6; I Peter 1:6-9). God has spoken; He has delivered His will to you for your life, your salvation, and your eternal life in Heaven. Are you listening?
We Need To Listen to Brethren
Now that we move our ears in a different focus we are not looking for further instructions; we are listening for something else. We are listening for their requests of help, comfort, or direction.
We have already spoken of God’s willingness to supply our needs. Among those needs is companionship or togetherness on the road of faith. God designed the church to meet those needs (Ephesians 1:4). The church was built by Christ (Matthew 16:18). The church is populated by the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16-17). The church is made up of brothers and sisters of like precious faith (II Peter 1:1-2).
Any relationship is sustained by conversation; both speaking and listening. The church is a family of brothers and sisters working together for the cause of Christ (Philippians 1:27). We are to be unified in our relationship (Romans 15:1-6; I Corinthians 12:20-27).
Why do we need to listen to our brethren? We need to be aware of their needs (Hebrews 10:24-25). Often, when speaking with our brethren, we offer “suggestions” of need without openly saying we need. We need to consider one another (pay close attention, listen carefully) in order that we do not miss some clues that indicate need.
When listening we also need to pay close attention in order that we might come to the right conclusions. Because we can hear and not listen completely at the same time we need to guard ourselves from “conclusion jumping” (Evil suspicions) (I Corinthians 13:5; 1Timothy 6:4). Listen carefully so as to not come to the wrong conclusions about your brethren. Always give them the benefit of any doubt and ask them personally to explain themselves if you for any reason do not understand.
Your brethren need you to listen, so that together we can withstand the world and successfully inherit eternal life. Are you listening?
We Need To Listen To Others
Again, with others, we are not looking for further instructions beyond, or differing from, God’s revealed word. Whether they are currently aware, or not, the world is accountable to their Creator. They will stand in judgment for all that they have said and all that they have done (II Corinthians 5:10-11). This is not a little problem, this is a big problem. The world is filled with souls who desperately need God, and the plan of salvation made available through His Son.
Why listen to others? We have to listen for their cries for help. The world is lost and dying in their sins. They are not going to make it by following their own hearts (Romans 3:23; 1 Timothy 6:9). We have what they need—the hope of salvation and life everlasting—the gift of God (Romans 6:23).
The world is in need of a Savior and there is only One (Acts 4:12). We must carry the gospel message out to the world (Matthew 28:18-20). We must hear those who are asking for help, we must listen to them and give them what they need (Romans 1:16). Yes, the world is in need and those who recognize their need are asking for help; you have the source of help. Are you listening?
We have some listening to do. We must listen to God in order to be pleasing to God. We need to listen to our brethren, helping one another to be pleasing to God. We need to listen to others, to hear their cries for help and bring them to place in which they too will be pleasing to God. Are you listening to God, to your brethren, to others?
If you are not a Christian today I want you turn this bulletin over to the last page. On that page there is a chart entitled “The Gospel Plan”. Please listen carefully to that chart. The instructions there will lead you to pleasing to God by becoming a Christian. Will you listen?