You can tell when someone isn’t listening to you. You can tell when they really could care less about your opinion, your voice, your insight, knowledge, or concern.
You can read it on their face. That look that says, “I’m not listening.”
I have often wondered what it is that makes people want to give you an audience. What makes them care what you have to say?
I only know what affects how I listen. If I am not listening to a “voice” it is usually because what they are speaking doesn’t line up with how they are living. What they are conveying doesn’t match what I have witnessed. In essence, they are a fake.
I don’t come to conclusions like that on a whim. I arrive at that conclusion based on interaction and experience with them. And, when I realize someone is a fake, I stop listening to their words. How can I trust what they say?
However, that is not always the reason I choose not to listen. At times, I fail to listen because what is being said is hard to hear. It hits me right in the gut. It convicts me. So, I don’t listen. I look for reasons to prove the assessment wrong. I look for things to throw back at the one speaking. I justify my bad behavior by making it someone else’s fault.
Tell me you have never been there. I think we all have.
Here’s what I know to be true. When someone approaches me in love to share their concern, their question, their view that I have taken a wrong turn, performed a wrong action, spoken mistruth, I do myself an injustice to close them off.
When something is brought to my attention in love, based on God’s truth, I NEED to listen. The person bringing it to me is not trying to harm me. Instead, they are obeying the commands of Scripture to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), and turn fellow believers away from their sinful patterns (James 5:19-20). In fact, they are showing themselves to be my true friend, a true sister or brother in Christ.
It may be hard to hear, but the wounds of a friend (those things that seem to hurt our hearts when said to us) are better than the kisses of an enemy (flattery that encourages us to continue in sin).
Let us be the kind of believers that are not scared to speak truth to others in love, encouraging their spiritual growth and turning them away from sin.
And on the flip side, let us also be the kind of believers that choose to LISTEN when others speak rebuke or correction to us based on God’s truth. It will be hard to hear. It will feel like a wound to the spirit but remember it is meant to spur us on towards good works, spiritual growth, and greater love for God and others.
Let’s change our “not listening” attitude to a “listening and hearing loud and clear” attitude that accepts this form of love from others. Remember, correction from a fellow believer is meant for your growth, not your harm, when done with love.
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who tuns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20