God gave you two ears and only one mouth. Think about that for a moment. Let that fact sink in. God created us in such a way that listening takes priority over speaking. Two ears! One mouth! Hear twice. Speak once.
But we are often not very good at listening. We are much more accomplished at speaking. It is more natural for us to hear once and speak twice. We don’t value listening and understanding as much as we value being heard. This is why spiritual disciplines go against our natural inclinations.
Remaining and abiding in the Vine is about putting ourselves in a place to hear God. That is what spiritual disciplines are about. It is about eliminating the distraction and silencing the noise around us so that we are in a place to better hear God. It is making room to hear God and to allow him to direct our actions. This sets the course of our life.
Why is hearing so important? Because faith is created through hearing:
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, ESV)
When Jesus spoke in the synagogue, he told the people the Scripture was fulfilled in their hearing.
“And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”” (Luke 4:21, ESV)
This is why we emphasize the proclamation of God’s Word. It is the Word of grace that transforms us and moves us to action. Sometimes I will have a person come to me who has negative thoughts and feelings about themselves. They will say “I am not worth it. I am a failure. I am a poor miserable sinner.”
This is where I get to share the sweet words of the gospel. I say, “God loves you. You are precious in his sight. You are so precious that he sent Jesus to die for your sins. You are forgiven. There is nothing you can do to make God stop loving you.”
That person may not believe anything I say before I say it. But those words are God’s words. Hearing those words will create faith. When we hear them, we start to believe. It’s not because we muster the willpower to believe. We believe because of the life-giving word begins to break down our objections.
Maybe you are reading this alone today. You are filled with feelings of doubt and lack self-esteem. Speak the word! Don’t just read it. Say it out loud. Say, “God loves me. I am precious in his sight. I am so precious he sent Jesus to die for me. I am forgiven. There is nothing I can do to make God stop loving me.”
You may not believe it now. But the reason you believe the opposite is because you keep telling yourself the lie. You keep speaking it, so you keep believing it. It is time for you to speak the truth. Tell yourself a new story. Tell yourself God’s story.
When we truly hear the Word of God, it does not leave us unaffected. But keep in mind that Isaiah was sent to a people that would be ever hearing but not understanding:
“And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “ ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’” (Isaiah 6:9, ESV)
The idea is that we can hear but not really hear. We may hear someone speaking, but we are not understanding. This happens when we start to interject what we think they are saying. We interpret their words in the way we want them interpreted. It is hard to hear someone when we are talking overtop of them.
So hear the Word. Open your heart to what it is saying. Before you raise your objections, give the Word space and time. In the next week, we will talk about some practical ways to make that happen.
Questions for Reflection
- How do you make room in your life to hear God?
- How does hearing from God overcome doubt?
- How do you resist talking over God?
- Share your comments.