Adoring God
Valuing Maturity
Passionately pursuing people

Failure to listen

My family and I recently visited a fast food restaurant for lunch after church. As we were waiting to order, a man was in front of us inquiring about his order. He had placed and paid for his order over 30 minutes prior but had not yet received his order! One employee after another seemed to dismiss the man and his inquiry regarding his ordered food that he had yet to receive. He finally tried to place his order again but was told that because the establishment was short staffed it could be up to 30 more minutes for his order to be ready! The man asked for his money back and left the restaurant.

This situation got me thinking. I wonder how many times do we treat people with questions about Jesus like this. They come with questions and we simply do not listen to them or try to pass them off to someone “more qualified” to answer. On many different occasions, we see Jesus listening to those around Him. One story that came to mind was when Jesus was approached by a young man during one of His journeys.

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17–22)

Jesus initially picked up on the young man calling Him “good.” After the young man said to Jesus that he had kept all of the commands from his youth, Jesus was able to not only listen to his response but also listened to what the young man did not say. Jesus saw that something was holding him back – money. When Jesus told him to go sell everything he had and then follow Him, the young man left disheartened. Jesus shows us how to pay attention to not only what people say but also what they do not say.

The world today is full of people just like this young man. They think they have been good enough to get eternal life. They have given money to non-profits who help those in need. They have never killed anyone (they may have slandered someone but that is not murder). They have been faithful to their significant other (at least the current one they have). They have not told big lies (little white ones are ok). They have never stolen anything from anyone (except those office supplies they use for personal use). They have honored their parents (by placing them in the best nursing home facility and visiting them once a year). They have definitely lived a good enough life to spend eternity in heaven right?

We need to listen to what people are saying to us and also be aware of what they are not saying. As we seek to reach out to others around us with their greatest need – the gospel message – we must seek to discover their physical and emotional needs as well. As we listen to others the way Jesus listened, we allow the gospel to start to penetrate people’s hearts and allow God to begin to affect people’s lives.

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