Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who did not listen to what you were saying? Frustrating isn't it? We have all had conversations where we were asked to repeat ourselves because the other person was not listening. Preachers see it in the eyes of their audiences more times than they want to admit.

True conversation can only be experienced if both parties listen to one another. When one participant does not listen to what the other says, the conversation becomes one sided. Any attempt to share information is lost. The non-listener will miss important information necessary for their well being. When that information comes from God, it becomes imperative that we listen.

When Jesus was teaching daily in the temple, the chief priests, scribes and principle men of the people wanted to kill Him, "and they could not find what they might do; for the people all hung upon him, listening" (Luke 19:48). This implies that Jesus had the undivided attention of the people. Their minds were upon Him and on what He was saying. They were deadly serious about hearing what was said. They were not going to let anyone or anything come between them and hearing the words of this man who spoke like no other they had ever heard before.

Jesus proclaimed John the baptizer to be the greatest man born of woman, thus assigning him a place in God's scheme of things. Jesus then said, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15).

After introducing the parable of the seed and the sower, Jesus said, "He that hath ears, let him hear" (Matthew 13:9). John writes of the sea beast and those who worship him in the book of Revelations. Once John has introduced this image, he writes, "If any man hath an ear, let him hear" (Revelation 13:9). There are many other places in Scripture that we could site. These will suffice to illustrate the point of how necessary it is to be a good listener, especially to God's word.

At this point, we shall address the problem many have with listening to a sermon. It should go without saying but least some doubt the validity of preaching, consider this, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14). So it is that God has established for men to hear His Word's via preaching.

In my preaching experience, I have seen people nod sleepily, play with babies, talk among each other, look aimlessly around the room and get this glazed look in their eyes which indicates they are deep in thought. Thoughts which I doubt seriously have anything to do with the subject of the sermon.

We all realize there will be distractions, babies crying and older children being restless. With such incidentals, I do not have a problem. However, I acknowledge there is a problem when people are consistently poor listeners. Practice being a good listener. Your soul depends on it.

By Glen Young

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