It’s Valentine season. A season that those in love look forward to, and a season of dread for those who are not! For a couple who were once in love, lack of communication is often cited as a source of their fallout. God built us for relationships and one of the desires in a relationship is to be heard by others. We want the assurance that our hopes and dreams, when expressed, are listened to and respected. Working with couples, and in my own relationships, I have found that most admit that expressing one’s feelings comes easy; we love to talk about the things that are important to us! The hard part is listening to the things that are important to others. Why is this so common?
Sometimes, it’s just easier not to listen. Listening takes effort and patience. Sometimes we fear that listening will lead to things we don’t want to hear. It is hard to hear that someone is disappointed in our efforts or we missed their expectations. At other times it is hard to listen to someone we simply disagree with. In many relationships it is hard to listen when we hear things that we’re powerless to change or when we don’t have answers or solutions. Most men want to take action, where most women simply want to talk. So how do we make the most of our relationship by knowing when to speak and when to listen?
The most well-known verse about listening is James 1:19: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Often quoted when someone doesn’t feel heard, but there is more going on in this passage. God presents Himself as the only living God, a God who sees, hears, speaks, and acts. If we are made in His image it is important to examine our lives and make sure these qualities are found in our relationships. Communication with others is a way to reflect who God is; both a speaker and one who listens.
1 Peter 3:12 tells us, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.” AndPsalm 34:17, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Our Heavenly Father is a listening God and One who speaks.
The message from the Bible is that we serve a living God. Listening to others is a way to reflect who God is, minister to them in all kinds of circumstances, and cultivate relationships where truth can be spoken. We all want to be heard, but the challenge becomes balancing both, making sure we hear from those in our scope of influence and in turn making our feelings clear. In other words, we need to spend more time thinking about what we say and what is being said to us.
Jesus informs us is Matthew 12: 34-37 “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of his good store of treasure, and the evil man brings evil things out of his evil store of treasure. But I tell you that men will give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
In this season of relationships, let us be more aware of thoughts and feelings when it comes to speaking to and hearing from those around us, especially those in close relationships. Speak the truth in love and carefully digest the words we receive from those we love. When we slow down, take the time to think through our feelings and the feelings of those we are close to, then we will have a greater understanding of what our strengths and struggles are all about. When we have genuine love for others sending and receiving becomes much easier.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:19-21
Serving the Savior,
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