Perry Emerick – Mesa Campus Pastor
As I have gotten older, one of the things I have noticed is that my hearing is not quite as good as it used to me. I often find myself repeatedly saying “What?” when my wife or my children say things to me. It isn’t that I don’t want to hear it or am trying to have selective hearing as men are often accused of having. It’s just that I have to work harder to accurately hear what other people are saying. I guess to many years of rock and roll are catching up to me! The problem then comes when someone has told me something that I either didn’t hear, or just don’t remember hearing, and it creates a problem or conflict that then has to be worked out.
However, there is another hearing problem that I have also encountered and practiced quite a bit as well. It doesn’t have to do with not being able to hear, it has to do with only hearing what I want to hear. It centers around hearing the parts that either support my argument, or the parts that contradict it. It is hearing the information that connects to the narrative in my head and then using that to prop myself up. The truth is though that I am not alone in this. I believe that all of us are guilty of this at one time or another, but for some people in general, it can become a very real and regular problem. It’s in these times that those famous words we have all said and heard come out…”You NEVER said that!”
As a parent this can happen quite bit with kids. They hear the part they want to hear, and completely ignore the parts they don’t. Major arguments can erupt because they chose not to hear all of what was communicated to them, and then don’t like he consequences that come when they are still held accountable to the parts they chose not to hear. But let’s be honest, it’s not just kids who do this. Married couples do this. Siblings do this. Friends do this. Professionals do this. Christians do this.
Jesus even warned against this. Matthew 7 holds some very powerful and convicting words regarding listening and acting on the things he taught. There is great benefit to those who would take the time to listen intently to what he is teaching and then putting it into practice. Conversely, for those who don’t calamity comes. It’s a principle that holds true in many areas of life. James also warns us with these profound words James 1:19-20:
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
How often does our anger come because we were quick to speak and slow to listen? How often have you found yourself listening for the sake of arguing rather than listening for the sake of learning or growing? How often have you paid a price for only listening to what you want to hear instead of listening to what you need to hear and then acting on it? If this is you, take time to stop, pray, repent, and listen…not only to God, but choose to listen to those around you too. Choose to hear all of what is being said instead of just the parts you want to hear.