Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

listen Archive



November 2020

Are you listening?

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

Listening is important

We all have a desire to be heard, the problem is not many of us listen. From birth, even without words, babies try to communicate with others – because they long to be heard. Mothers typically recognize the cry of their child because they’ve spent so much time listening.

We also see this with animals. Dickens has an interesting way of communicating, using his front paws to reach out and touch us when he wants something. He also barks incessantly at any threat outside our home. We’ve become so attuned listening to his bark that we understand when he sees a squirrel, cat, or a human.

Listening requires action

Listening requires action on our part, which we tend to forget. We get caught up thinking that action comes when we speak, which is why many of us have a habit of interrupting. Rather than listening to what others have to say, we start planning a smart response, readying our reaction rather than hearing what others are saying.

One benefit to listening is that we become more receptive. After a conversation with Nathan, King David had a responsive heart to hear the Lord. In 2 Samuel 7, we understand the blessing that comes with listening, as when we truly listen, we grow closer to God. “Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God:” David proclaimed, “for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” (v. 22). Listening – not just laying out our prayer lists – is one of the most important aspects of our relationship with God.

Another blessing of listening is that it helps us to learn. When Paul and Silas preached the Gospel to the Berean Jews, we read in Acts 17:11, “that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Mark Twain once said that, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would rather have talked.” We cannot learn unless we listen.

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would rather have talked.”

Mark Twaint

Listening also helps us to deal with hard truths and become discerning

We are all guilty of avoiding topics that make us uncomfortable. Perhaps we feel less informed than the person we’re speaking with, but more often than not, we have a hard time accepting the truth – especially when it’s not convenient. A great example of this is found in John 6. After feeding the five thousand, Jesus was preaching in Capernaum, and He went against the grain of the popular teachers of the day by sharing the truth: That salvation is found in Him alone – not in how much money we give away, or how frequently we go to church, or which family we belong to. This made a lot of people uncomfortable – it still does today – to the point that some of His followers left Him. “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (v. 60). Until we start listening, we will struggle to deal with the truth.

God speaks to those who listen.

Originally published as “Are you listening?” Independent Plus. June 11, 2020: 5. Print. Web.



August 2019

What Listening Means

Written by , Posted in Christian Living

It's no coincidence that the word 'listen' contains the same letters as the word 'silent'. | Read more at hopereflected.com

The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent

The earliest verse I can find in the Bible that references listening is Genesis 16:11, where the angel of the Lord tells Hagar that the Lord “has heard” her affliction. In the book of Psalms, David wrote several times about how the Lord listens and opens His ears to hear His people. In the New Testament James, John, and Paul all encourage their readers about the importance of hearing, taking heed, and listening. Whether we say them audibly or not, the Lord hears all of our thoughts and words. What else does the Bible say about listening? What are the qualities of a great listener?

Listening is an act of humility

One of the verses that I frequently pray for myself and Wes is James 1:19, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”.  Being swift to hear means to be quick to listen, and it’s something with which I struggle. Quite often, when we’re engaged in conversation, we spend more time thinking about the next thing that we’re going to say rather than actually listening to what the other person is saying. One of the qualities of a great listener is that they genuinely care about others and want to hear what others have to say. In that sense, listening is an act of humility.

Listening means that we’re “slow to speak”

A great listener understands that listening requires us to be as James 1:19 says, “slow to speak.” Great listeners not only care about what others have to say, they purposefully slow down to hear them. Great listeners are respectful of what others have to say, they don’t interrupt, and they sincerely want to understand what the other person is saying. Proverbs 18:2 says, “a fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.” While we long to express our opinions, we have to be careful that we’re doing so respectfully. Proverbs 18:13 says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” We play ourselves as fools when we make assumptions without first hearing the whole story, and we create awkwardness when we interrupt others before they’re finished speaking their thoughts.

Listening is peacemaking over provocation

Another quality of a great listener is being slow to wrath, or slow to anger. When you’re tempted to react in haste to something someone else has said or done, remember that it’s best to first take a deep breath, go for a walk, get some fresh air, or if time allows, sleep on it. Proverbs 21:23 says, “whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from trouble.” The great listeners among us are interested in peacemaking rather than provocation.

Stephen Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” It’s no coincidence that the word listen contains the same letters as the word silent (also known as an anagram). We would all do well to keep that in mind the next time someone starts to speak to us.

Learn more about the blessings of listening here.

Originally published as “Listening.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. April 11, 2019: 6. Print. Web.



September 2017

Hope Reflected | Listening

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

"Be quick to listen." (James 1:19) | See more at hopereflected.com


Recently in our devotional time, Wes and I have both been challenged by the concept of being still and learning to listen. Often when we pray, for example, we get so caught up in talking, expressing our feelings, our wishes, our worries, and our desires that we neglect to take the time to actually listen to God. This can translate into our human relationships as well. So often, we get caught up sharing an anecdote with a friend, trying to get our opinion across, or even talking about other people that we neglect – or sometimes even ignore – the opportunity to listen to what others have to say.

Let’s face it: Some people are more inclined to be constantly talking, or blaring the music a little louder, or turning up the volume on the TV. Silence has a way of making people feel uncomfortable. Sometimes we don’t want to listen to our own thoughts.

This makes me wonder why we as humans are often afraid to listen. We’re quick to interrupt others because we want to feel important by inputting our opinions. We’re fast to follow up and reply during conversation because we have a longing to be heard.

While we all want to be heard, we should also consider the blessings that come when we choose to listen.

Listening increases our productivity. “Whoever listens…will dwell secure and will be at ease.” (Proverbs 1:33) You know how you’re supposed to read the instructions the whole way through before you start putting the pieces together? Listening is much like reading the instructions – you need to take the time if you want to do things right. Listen to the whole story before getting to work. Listen to what the other person is saying before you formulate your reply. When you take the time to listen before making a decision, or before starting a project, or before responding in conversation, you will quickly realize that listening can save you a lot of time and help you become a more productive person.

Listening helps us learn. “Incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding.” (Proverbs 2:2) It’s been said of old that when we speak we’re only repeating things we already know, and it’s not until we stop and listen that we actually learn. Listening is the difference between being informed and being opinionated. Before you can understand, you must listen, and that is what will help you learn.

Listening encourages others. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) Not only does listening help us learn, listening helps us pay more attention to others. Listening puts the focus on being interested rather than being interesting. Rather than expressing our own opinions and getting our point across, listening demonstrates that we are interested in others and in hearing what they have to say. You know sometimes you just want to vent after you’ve come through a trying situation or a hard day? Whether I’m talking to God, or to Wes, or having a heated conversation with myself in the shower, there’s something so relieving about letting it all out on a listening ear (without someone trying to solve all your problems). It’s often said that the greatest gift you can give to another is your attention. Listening provides encouragement.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the word “listen” contains the same letters as the word “silent”. The next time you’re feeling uncomfortable or awkward because of silence, use the opportunity to listen. There are great blessings when you learn the skill of listening!

Originally published as “Listening.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. September 7, 2017: 7. Print. Web.