People today are notoriously bad listeners. We are good talkers but poor listeners. We think of when we want to say while another person is talking, and if they don’t finish soon enough we interrupt to have our say. To become a good listener means making a commitment to listen.
You see, hearing means commitment to obey. We must listen before we can obey, but we won’t be able to really listen until we commit to obey.
“Listen” refers to more than hearing sound. When a parent says to their child, “Did you hear me?” they aren’t wondering if their voice was loud enough. They are pointing out the importance of doing what they just heard.
A missionary translator was endeavoring to find a word for “obedience” in the native language. This was a virtue seldom practiced among the people into whose language he wanted to translate the New Testament. As he returned home from the village one day, he whistled for his dog and it came running at full speed. An old native, seeing this, said admiringly in the native tongue, “Your dog is all ear.” Immediately the missionary knew he had his word for obedience.
We must make a commitment to obey God before He speaks, not wait until we hear from Him and then consider what He says along with our other options. He won’t speak His will to us just so we can mull it over. He must know our desire to want to do what He wants even before we know what it is. Hebrews 3:7-8 says, “so, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert.”
Hearing means commitment to obey, and often when we do so there is a price to pay.
Hearing means commitment to pay. God often calls us to do things that don’t fit our agenda, our schedule or our idea of what should be done. Hosea committed himself to obey God and God told him to marry an adulterous wife (Hosea 1:1-3). Jeremiah was cruelly persecuted. Isaiah was commanded to go around naked and barefoot for three years (20:3-5). Hearing God means commitment to obey, no matter what the price we must pay.
Are you willing to pay the price to hear from God? Will you commit to obey Him no matter what He says?
So what have we learned about listening to God? First, we must be a Christian for it is through the indwelling Spirit that He speaks to us. In addition, we must make sure there is no unconfessed sin in our lives.
Then we must watch out for distractions, disappointments, disconnections, disinformation, deception and disbelief, for any of these can stop our reception of His communication. Are any of these keeping you from hearing from God?
Always be on the alert for anything God may be doing to get you to better listen to Him. Is He giving you an unsettled spirit, an unsolicited word from another person, unusual circumstances (both bad and good), or unanswered prayer? Do you notice any of these in your life right now? Is God trying to get your attention so you’ll listen?
Make sure you are willing to obey what He says, even before He tells you. Some things may be pleasing and easy, but others may be hard and very difficult. Often there is a price to pay. Are you willing to pay the price to hear from God? Will you commit to obey Him no matter what He says?
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)