Good listening is truly an act of love.
I have been a teacher most of my life… And because I know that God is a good listener, I have tried to practice and improve upon this skill in my own life.
We may have entered March, but February was the “month of love.”
I remember an incident where using “listening as an act of love” gave us a breakthrough with a student we had struggled with at the school where I was principal for years. When this young lady was sent my office once again, I sat her down and we spoke. I shared with her that I care enough to listen to her heart, but that I also have time to spend just with her.
During the conversation, she shared that she had found pornography on her dad’s phone. I listened to her pain “all the way to the bottom.” Incredibly, she was a changed girl – because she knew that I loved her… simply due to me having time to listen!
The heading of Philippians 2 is Be Like Christ. In the first few verses of this chapter, we are reminded to show love one to another, to do everything with an attitude of humility, to regard one another as more important than ourselves – to look to Christ as our example in selfless humility. Paul Tillich said, “The first duty of love is to listen.”
The act of merely “being heard” is often a potent elixir of communication and connection. Listening can be defined as the “act of hearing attentively.” Listening is indeed a form of love! When you make the effort to listen, it demonstrates that you are interested in what is being said… interested in that person. Someone once said, “Listening is often the only thing needed to help someone.”
Listening is also a form of caring and respect. You listen attentively because you love others enough to level up in your relationship. Listening is one of the easiest things you will ever do as well as one of the hardest!!
Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing (listening), and hearing through the Word of Christ.”
Active listening is a great act of faith and a great means of grace – both for ourselves and for others in our relationships. I read something that really exemplifies what I believe –
Poor listening rejects;
good listening embraces.
Poor listening diminishes the other person,
while good listening invites them to exist,
and to matter.
In James 1:19, he exhorts them to, “Let every person be quick to hear (listen), slow to speak, slow to anger.”
Too often we are slow to hear, quick to speak, and even quicker to anger.
Learning to actively listen will require:
3. And intentionality
Good listening is an act of love… and the best way to love today is to “listen to someone’s pain all the way to the bottom.”
Bonhoeffer writes, “We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the word of God. He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either.” He also wrote, “Just as love to God begins with listening to his Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.”
Listening may be one of the hardest things to learn to do, but we will find it worth every ounce of effort. A Turkish proverb says, “If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.” We see that same principle repeatedly in the Book of Proverbs… It says a lot about hearing – or listening.
There is no specific verse in the Bible that says, “when we listen, we show love.” It does say to love one another – so I think its fair to say that listening to someone else with intentionality truly expresses love.
In conclusion, I am so thankful that God demonstrates His great love by listening to us. In Psalm 116:1-2, the Psalmist says,
“I love the LORD, because He hears me;
He listens to my prayers.
He listens to me every time I call to him.”
This is my challenge to you – in today’s society, that is all about “self”, determine and purpose to listen more intently to others. Don’t listen to provide a response. Listen with the intent to bring healing and demonstrate the heart of God to others!