From the very beginning, God has wanted people to listen. One of the most remarkable aspects of creation is that God speaks to the creation. God addresses Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” God says in Genesis 2:16-17, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Communication involves a sender and a receiver. When God speaks, God expects His words to be heard. Even more so, God expects His words to be heeded. Yet, the Scriptures recount frequent failures to listen. So often, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, the people do not listen to word of the Lord.
In our lives, when people don’t listen, it can make us want to do the same to them. After all, if someone doesn’t listen to me, why should I listen to him? However, God’s response is so often different than our own. Although it is true that the people can move so far away from God that they become calloused, God remains a listening God throughout Scripture. The problem is not that God has stopped listening to us. Rather, the problem is that we stop listening to God (Isaiah 59:1-2).
Considering the theme of listening throughout the Bible, the life of Jesus is truly a great example of a listener. Throughout the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we find Jesus listening to the Father as well as listening to others. Certainly, Jesus teaches often and has much to say. Jesus also lends a listening ear to others. But why would Jesus need to listen to others? After all, Jesus is the all-knowing God in the flesh. Jesus doesn’t need to be taught by others. Plus, we see examples of Jesus knowing what others are thinking. So, why does Jesus take the time to be a listener?
Jesus listened to others because Jesus respected others. When we respect the basic human dignity of another person, it follows that we have respect for what the person says. Jesus models for us good listening skills.
As we apply this to our relationship with God, if we respect God then we will listen and heed that which God has said. Numerous times in the Bible, we find a phrase which reads along the lines of, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Are we listening to God? Do we respect God enough to really pay attention to His words? In closing, let’s reflect on these words of Jesus:
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-27).