People who don’t listen frustrate me. And when it is Christians who don’t listen, to other Christians as well as non-Christians, that really frustrates me (and for the record I would like to first say that I fall into both of these categories way too often). But I've been thinking lately, how can we truly give love to people if we don’t first give them a chance? How is the world supposed to see Christ in us when we write people off before we take the time to hear who they are and what they need? There seems to be a strong connection between listening and loving.
I think fear is largely behind many circumstances where we (myself included) don’t listen to people. It seems sometimes that Christians are afraid of even listening to other people share their beliefs, regardless of what those might be. But what do we have to be afraid of?? Listening, seeking to understand people, is not a sin but is something Jesus demonstrated and prioritized in his ministry. It is more than okay to have meaningful, honest conversation with people who hold different beliefs and views than us—I say it is imperative. I think a lot of people are afraid of being proven wrong or maybe don’t like to argue (which I/ve never been one for conflict). But we should always hold up the good news of Christ and use the Gospel lense to look into our world and the claims being made.
People long to be loved—to receive love at different levels and in various forms. There are several ways of communicating and sharing love to others, assorted love languages if you will (there ya go Linds King). But unless we listen to people and look deep into their hearts then we are incapable of effectively loving them in the fullness of the Spirit. We can say we love and even do things that show them love, but they will never fully know and experience the penetrating love that can reach the darkest corners of their lives, erasing fear and uncertainty from within. We must listen, listen, and listen some more, in order to love better, love purer, love more completely. Lord forgive me for not listening and for being close-minded. Help me listen with the ears and a heart like Jesus'.
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pic of the day: