I Was Just Thinking About – HEARING VERSUS LISTENING.
I retain a mental image of my wife addressing one or more of our children about some misdeed or incorrect behavior. Every once in a while, she would place her hands on either cheek and look them directly in their eyes and say: “Do you hear what I am saying?” What was her point? She was attempting to get their complete attention so she could instruct them regarding what is or isn’t acceptable behavior. Just because a child or children heard her call their name did not necessarily compute that they were listening to what she was saying. Why? They were preoccupied with their activity or something else that had their attention.
It makes one wonder about people who gather together for a Worship Service. Do they do it with eagerness or habit? Do they gather with hearts and minds anticipating the presence of the Lord in an intimate worship experience? Do they have a sense of the Holy Spirit ready to guide them into more of God’s truth that will enable them to better understand the ways of the Lord during personal times of the unexpected or uncertainties in life? If only Psalm 122:1 was a greater reality for each one who sits in a pew – “I was glad when they said to me: Let us go to the house of the Lord.” When people gather for a worship service currently, are they hearing or are they actually listening?
Dr. Haddon Robinson was skilled in the area of Communication. He said about Sunday Sermons, there are four “don’ts” that should be carefully remembered: “Don't assume the subject is dull. Any message will have a fresh insight or a helpful illustration. A keen ear will listen for such. Don't criticize before hearing out the speaker. Don't let your prejudices close your mind. Effective listeners keep an open mind, restraining the tendency to argue or agree until they fully understand the speaker's position in light of what the Scriptures teach. Don't waste the advantage which thought has over speech.
Many times, the words that may have been the most useful for a person are missed because of merely hearing words spoken but not listening to what the words mean. If only we would approach the preaching of God’s Word with this type prayer hymn in mind:
Speak, Lord, in the stillness
while I wait on thee;
Hushed my heart to listen, in expectancy.
Fill me with the knowledge of Thy glorious will;
All Thine own good pleasure in my life fulfill.
We should also remember the words of admonition in James 1:22-25 which emphasizes a further step: “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Mirror…If you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”
Prayerfully – consider these things with me.