“TO HEAR AND TO LISTEN”                            By Pastor Yau

Deuteronomy 6:3-9                                                March 28, 2004

 

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INTRODUCTION:  A story in a recent devotional described a familiar scenario: My wife and I were sitting in our living room at about 9:00 at night.  I was reading a book.  Suddenly my wife said to me, “Honey, I need to talk to you.” And she started to talk.  A couple of minutes later, she stopped and asked, “Are you listening?”  I was tempted to answer, Sure, I am listening.”  But I would be lying if I said that.  My mind was still on the book.  I should have closed the book and paid full attention to her. 

       Too many conflicts, misunderstandings, broken relationships and/or even wars between people in the family, at work, in school, the society and even international politics were caused because people do not pay attention to each other.  Every body wants to talk, but no one is willing to listen.

 

THE BIBLE ON LISTENING:

       According to concordance, the words “listen” and “hear” were used over 700 times, far more than those important words, “love, power, lord” etc.  The scripture reading for today’s message was one of many messages spoken by the great man of God, Moses at the end of his life. He virtually begged the people of Israel to LISTEN to God.  From the first five gooks of the Old Testaments, we read instance after instance, the Israelis failed to listen to the Lord and had suffered terrible setbacks, defeats and even punishments from God.  In the Book of Proverbs, many calls to listen offered by the father to his sons to heed words of wisdom.  I wonder why God called upon His disciples to listen to His Son, Jesus, on the mountain of the transfiguration.  May be that is the single most important commandment God has for His people in the New Testament time.

       At the end of the infamous Sermon on the Mountain, the Lord said, “Those who have ears, let them listen.”  I don’t believe these are accidental words.

 

WHY LISTEN?  There are many benefits to listen. The following are only a few.

1)      Listening demonstrates RESPECT.  We often times pay full attention to people we respect the most when they speak. We will pay less or no attention to those we have little or no respect at all.  You may argue that this is wrong, but it is true in too many cases.  If you respect that person, you will listen to what he/she has to say.

2)      Listening shows you CARE.  People around us, especially those who are so close to us, can tell if you care about them by if you care to listen to them.  When your spouse or children need to talk to you while you are doing something else, that is the moment of test: who is more important in your mind.

3)      Listening helps you to UNDERSTAND.  Many misunderstanding are results of NOT listening. While the good friends of Job came to comfort Job, they came with planned message to TELL Job, not to listen to him and his pain and suffering. That’s why Job was so frustrated and complained to them in Proverbs 13:5, “If you just keep your silence that will be your wisdom.”  How will you say anything that may be helpful to someone if you don’t understand his needs because you are not willing to listen.

 

HOW TO LISTEN?  The following are some of the important basis to listen well.

1)      A PROPER ATTITUDE. Attitude such as genuine love, respect, sympathy and willingness are among those proper attitudes we need to have to have good and effective listen. Otherwise, you may not listen to what the person is telling you.

2)      UNDIVIDED ATTENTION is another important step. You can’t really know what the person is trying to tell you if you have other thing(s) keeping you from listening.

3)      JUST LISTEN, DON’T TRY TO SAY.  Too often, we are not listening while the other person is talking, but are planning what and how to respond and to say. If you don’t know what his problem is, you can’t offer meaningful advice.

4)      BE NEUTRAL. Our attitude in listening is often times influenced by our perception of the person who is doing the talking. If we have bias judgment against that person, we won’t be able to listen correctly and fairly.

 

WHOM SHOULD WE LISTEN TO?

1)      We should first listen attentively to GOD. Even though most of us accept the fact that God is superior in wisdom, power and love, often times, we just don’t listen to Him and His words. That’s the same mistake as you try to solve some difficult math problems and will not consult your friend who is a Nobel Prize winner in math. What a waste.

2)      Listen to men of wisdom, especially Spiritual Wisdom.  The Book of Proverbs calls so many times for us to do that.  We all have people around us who are more mature in godly wisdom, life experience and good character who may show us ways we never know exist, paths that are better choices and ideas we never think possible.  People in high positions are often times surrounded by advisers who will help them make best decisions

3)      Listen to those who love you the most, have your best interest in their minds. People like your spouse, your parents, friends who really love you and want to see you well. Be careful to whom you listen.  Many people listen to wrong advice and suffer terrible consequences.

4)      Listen to the small voice of the Holy Spirit. God is in you thru the Holy Spirit. He will voice his guidance if you ask Him and hold obedient attitude to His advice. Do not push away His voice when you know that God is talking to you, even His guidance is in direct opposition of your likes and choices.

 

CONCLUSION:   We often times mistaken that we have been listening to people all our lives and we know HOW to listen. No, we don’t.  Meaningful listening is not easy to achieve.  It takes special attitude and attention to do good listening. Your efforts in learning how to listen will definitely be helpful in your understanding of others and make you a better listener for m and for yourself.