Hurry Up and Listen

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Proverbs 17:28).

The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.”

The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.”

It was not till the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. The ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”

The art of listening is a biblical issue; some say it is even one of the disciplines of the Christian life.

Throughout the Old and New Testament, people were condemned or commended for their listening skills (Deuteronomy 1:43-45; 5:1; Isaiah 55:9-11; Matthew 7:24, 26; 13:1-16; Mark 4:24; Luke 8:18; 10:13-16; Romans 10:13-14).

If someone does not practice the grace of listening to others, when will that “spill over” into the challenge of listening to God?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life…Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.”

Want to be a more faithful communicator; start by committing yourself to being a better listener (James 1:19).


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