Are you growing from the gift of listening?
The New Testament doesn't name listening as a spiritual gift, but it's a gift we can, and should, give one another. And truly listening to one another could remedy much of the divisive rhetoric prevalent among evangelical Christians.
The Bible affirms the value of listening. James writes, "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger" (James 1:19). The Old Testament also warns against a person's desire only to speak his or her mind and not to listen to understand another: "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion" (Proverbs 18:2).
Even the commonly held wisdom of humanity speaks to the importance of listening. You may have heard a version of a saying that apparently goes back more than 2,000 years: "We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less."
Despite this truth, my pride longs to make sure another person hears and understands my views -- even to the extent of focusing on what I will say next while he or she is speaking -- instead of making sure I understand that person's views. Regrettably, we have far too many social-media examples of Christians who are committed to expressing the opinions they hold with their tribes but not to listening closely to brothers and sisters who have different views on secondary matters they also believe are biblically based.
When we truly listen to another person, we are saying something important:
-- Listening tells another person, "I value you and your views."
-- Listening tells another person, "I can learn from you."
-- Listening tells another person, "I want to understand you and your views."
-- Listening tells another person, "I care about you."
-- Listening tells another person, "I want to be invited into your world."
Brothers and sisters, may we cultivate and prize listening that we might grow in our understanding, that we might demonstrate love, that we might foster unity and peace, that we might display the centrality of the gospel, and that we might glorify God together.
-- Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash