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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How Well Do We Listen?

A cartoon shows a man seated in a recliner and reading a newspaper. His wife exclaims, “George, the garage is on fire.” He replies, ”That’s nice, Dear.”

Many married couples can relate to the cartoon’s message: Husbands can be very poor listeners. Of course, there is always the possibility a husband is losing his sense of hearing. In that case, a hearing test can determine whether hearing aids might improve his quality of life—and his wife’s.

Good hearing and good listening are not necessarily synonymous. A person may hear every word a nutritionist speaks about healthful eating and then enter the nearest restaurant and order pecan pie with two scoops of ice cream. Another person may hear her doctor say she must exercise at least 30 minutes daily or risk a heart attack or stroke, but she may continue to play the role of a couch potato. In each case, neither person listened.

Wisdom is personified in Jesus and disclosed in Scripture. If we merely read Jesus’ words and dismiss them, we have only heard them. But if we read and obey His words, we have listened to them. Let’s be like the boy Samuel, who prayed, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).