Here’s a question for you —what do you think is the hardest thing to do in a relationship? Think about it!
What’s the hardest thing to do in any relationship? Personally, I think it’s listening.
Listening doesn’t come naturally to human beings. Most of us love to talk. But to focus in on what someone we love is saying —now that takes effort!
Whether it’s a 5-year-old little brother recounting every (and I mean every) activity of his day, or a 16-year-old sister explaining every (and I mean every) detail of her break-up, or listening to your spouse describe every (and I mean every) little thing that bothered them about work that day, it’s tough to listen for very long.
So why bother? It’s because listening demonstrates our love. When we do something that tough, we demonstrate how much we love someone. If listening were easy, it would also be a lot less loving.
We demonstrate our love for God by listening to Him. To some, “listen” is a synonym for “obey.” That’s important, but it’s not what I’m talking about. In this context, to listen means to focus on the words that God has spoken to us through the Bible.
Proverbs 8 personifies godly wisdom as a woman calling for listeners on a busy street. We don’t know how many customers she drew; I would guess, not too many. People haven’t changed.
Maybe wisdom needed a better business plan. Who really wants to listen to the demands of wisdom? Chances are —she’d urge people to do things they didn’t want to do so they could achieve some long-term goal. Listening to God’s wisdom —focusing on each word, understanding its implications, interacting with its intentions —is as tough as listening to people! But it’s also worth it.
As with any discipline, listening gets easier with practice. It starts out tough, and you might not always pay complete attention, but you will get better. So why not start right now?
Commit yourself to the labor of listening —to your spouse, friends, family, and to God.
In this case, nothing says “I love you” like saying nothing and listening instead.
To give credit where credit is due —the above message is a modified version that came from The Soul’s Journey/Campus Journal that was sent a number of years ago to me (Steve) and in turn passed along to you because of the wisdom of the message it delivers —especially to those of us who are married.
The Bible tells us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). This is especially important in marriage because it often happens that we switch those concepts around where we are quick to speak, quick to become angry, and slow to listen.
Lets face it… we want things our own way! We’re sure our way makes more sense. And even if we don’t mean to, we will often run over our spouse with our own words, pushing aside his or hers, failing to really truly listen to bring our “logic” to the forefront. But is this really the best logic? Doesn’t this method cause more communication hindrances and problems than it solves? And isn’t there the possibility that our spouse might actually have a better solution sometimes?
“There are two hindrances to good communication that must be overcome. There’s the bad habit of lazy listening and hasty speaking” (John Lavendar).
How do you stop being a hasty, selfish marriage partner and instead become a better (less lazy) listener? Dr Gary Smalley said it best:
“To learn the power of listening, you’ll have to begin with one vow: to rid yourself of what the Demmitts (Dr Dallas and Nancy) call the ‘How can I get you to shut up and listen to me?’ mind-set and replace it with a ‘What can I do to create a safe place where understanding can take root and grow’ attitude.”
We hope this message will come as a reminder that a marriage license doesn’t give us a “license” to become deaf to doing that which God tells us to do: strive to be a better listener —especially when it comes to your relationship with your spouse, the one you are to “cleave” to as “one.” Listening may be one of the greatest gifts of love you could give him or her.
In closing, we’re listing several scriptures below that we hope you’ll use during a Bible study time to allow God to speak to your heart. If you’re able to spend this time studying them with your spouse, that’s even better! It would be good to discuss whatever God is telling you as it pertains to listening within your marriage relationship. And then end your time together praying that God will help you to truly listen to each other as God would have you.
Suggested scriptures to read to go along with this message: Proverbs 1:5 — Proverbs 8 — Proverbs 12:15 — Proverbs 15:14 — Proverbs 15:31— Proverbs 18:13 — Proverbs 18:15 — Proverbs 19:20 — Proverbs 23:12 — and James 1:19.
“Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.“ (Luke 11:28)
Our love and prayers are with you that together we make our marriages ones that truly reflect the heart of Christ,
Steve and Cindy Wright