Hearing and listening don’t always take place at the same time.
As a teacher, I’m especially familiar with the difference between hearing and listening. I don’t teach any deaf students, so technically all my students always hear what I say. But on test days or instances when we are orally practicing what they’ve heard, it quickly becomes evident not all of them have listened. Or when I give instructions and a student immediately asks me a question I just answered, it’s apparent hearing took place but listening didn’t. With my ears, I receive sounds, but in order to listen I must engage my attention and mind. Listening requires focusing on what I’ve heard and then processing it so it stays with me and is ushered into my long-term memory.
The entire Old Testament record is the story of God speaking to people who often didn’t listen. From the very first couple to those living when Jesus arrived, disobedience was a universal thread. God spoke through visions, dreams, prophets, and natural phenomenons. While those who witnessed these feats and heard these messages appeared to listen, many didn’t really hear. Had they, their actions would have been different.
God also spoke his love through the sacrificial system. Rather than requiring a person’s life because of their sins, he allowed them to make a substitute. Animal sacrifices, however, were only temporary and symbolic. Since they weren’t perfect, sin was only momentarily covered. But when God spoke through his Son, he completed the required sacrifice. No more killings are necessary. Just listening to and accepting the one who has been offered on our behalf.
When I truly listen to God’s message of love, actions will follow. Not only will I accept but I will also prove I’ve listened through my lifestyle. I will love God with my entire being, love others as I do myself, and adopt attitudes that honor my Savior.
Are you really listening to what God is saying to you?
Prayer: Omnipotent God, enable us to not only hear but also to listen to You when You speak.