Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Art of Listening

I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you. (Matthew 12:36-37)

What are some of your pet peeves when talking with others? Do any of these ring a bell?
  • people who talk with their mouths full
  • people who interrupt
  • people who never laugh at your jokes
  • people whose eyes dart all over the room as you are speaking
  • people who are always on their phones

Writer Doug Larson said wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk. Maybe friendship is the reward you get for listening when you really don't feel like it, when you've heard your friend's complaints a hundred times or when no one else will. Want to play a quick game of "Truth Is"? The truth is, most people would really prefer to have their own needs stated before they prefer to listen to someone else's. And the truth is, friendships can only grow when both people are willing to do some sacrificial listening.

Jesus is speaking here of "idle" behavior...words we may not even remember speaking. Times we turned a deaf ear but thought nothing of it. Even in the moments we pay no attention, Jesus is present. We are not saved by works (see Ephesians 2:9), but that is not the heart of Jesus' message. It's not that listeners go to heaven and ignores do not. Jesus' point here is that our words (and in turn our silence), even the idle one, reveal the condition of our hearts. It's impossible to have a heart ready to be a friend if we have lips unwilling to silence themselves long enough to hear someone else out.

Action Step
Practice listening today. Share your opinion only when asked. Ask others a lot of questions, then shut your mouth and listen! 


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