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Proverbs 2:1-2 (ESV)

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, make your ear attentive to wisdom and incline your heart to understanding.

James 1:19 (NIV)

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

Philippians 2:1-4 The Message (MSG)

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

I think one of the hardest things for people to do is to learn how to do is listen. It is not particularly surprising that this is the case in our society. We live in a “me first” society. Every day in our nation we are fed a diet of consumerism, individualism and greed. We can’t even seem to agree on caring for the life and dignity of others.

In fact, I was greatly dismayed recently at a recent photo taken at a protest of the government restrictions placed on society due to the Covid-19 virus that said, “Sacrifice the Weak, Re-Open Tennessee.” We seem to fail to even be able to recognize the worthiness of all life, let alone listen to others.

In fact, often the true holy trinity is not the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but Me, Myself, and I.

The problem is when we fail to take the time to listen, we miss out on a great deal.

In the book, You're Not Listening: What You're Missing and Why It Matters, author Kate Murphy tells a story about the late Dick Bass, son of a Texas oil baron. He too became very successful if a bit eccentric. In addition to running the family oil and gas business he was an investor, a rancher, and the owner of Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah. However, he is most known for his mountain climbing. He the first man to climb the "Seven Summits", the tallest mountain on each continent, and for years he held the record for being the oldest man to climb Mount Everest at the age of 55.

In addition to being known for going on ambitious mountain-climbing expeditions, he was known for talking to anyone and everyone about anything, usually at great length. He would talk to anyone within earshot, including once a man who happened to be seated next to him on an airplane. Once for the entirety of a cross-country flight, Bass told about the treacherous peaks of McKinley and Everest and about the time he almost died in the Himalayas and his plan to climb Everest again. He went on and on in great detail. As they were about to land, Bass realized he had not properly introduced himself. “That’s okay,” the man said, extending his hand. “I’m Neil Armstrong. Nice to meet you.”

Failure to listen can cause us to miss out on some amazing things. Of course, listening isn’t just about shutting up and not talking. I know for a fact I can be completely silent and not comprehend a thing you are saying. Experts say that the best listeners are active engaged listeners.

Active listeners build trust and form relationships. They listen for understanding. They ask thoughtful questions. They listen with their whole being - with all of their senses. They are empathetic and compassionate. They wait to be asked for a response before providing one. Active listeners redirect their focus from themselves to others.

We need to actively listen to each other and to God. With others it’s about putting aside our ego. With God it’s about prayer. The great missionary Frank Laubach reminds us all that, “Prayer at its highest is a two-way conversation—and for me the most important part is listening to God’s replies.”

Friends, let us all seek to listen. Let us seek to put God and others first. And having heard we will be able to better serve our Lord.


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