Learning to listen

learning to listen

I sometimes tell myself I am becoming spiritually deaf, but I suspect that my ears work perfectly and my trouble hearing God is due to the spiritual equivalent of ear wax. All the noise and demands of the world around me seem to produce a kind of sludge that clogs my mind and dulls my ability to hear God’s will. For that, there is only one solution: I need to get clean, and it starts with allowing Jesus to wash the dirt from my soul. Ephesians 5:25 tells us that Christ loves the church (his apprentices) and gave himself to make us holy, cleansing us with God’s Word.

Jesus “washes away” the dirt, some of which has been deeply ground into our soul. Some examples of the dirt we live in:

  • At an early age we learn the reward/punishment process. We are taught how to put the carrot on the stick, and how, if that doesn’t work, threats and punishment are the best ways to get others to do what we want. Yet this was not the way of Jesus.
  • We are also big believers in the notion that, “If I don’t take care of myself, no one else will.” Jesus, however, said the opposite was true: “those who want to save their life must lose it.”
  • We are convinced that the way to gain is by grabbing and holding, but Jesus taught, “Give, and it will be given to you.”

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the foolish and false notions we have bought into as a culture. If you want a tool that can help you see how deeply you have been influenced by the spiritual grime of the world around you, here are five questions you can ask yourself:

  1. When things go wrong in my life, how long does it take me to remember to pray and thank God that he knows better than I what needs to happen?
  1. When someone hurts me, how long is it before my negative thoughts are replaced with prayer? How long before I can pray for the person who harmed me?
  1. When I visit or have a meeting with someone, do I pray before it happens, asking God to give me ears to hear and love to share?
  1. When I’m alone, how often am I consciously aware that I am never really alone, but that God is always with me wherever I go?
  1. When my mind is not focused on a task and has some down time, where does it go? Does my mind spontaneously return to God like the needle of a compass moves back to north when free from magnetic sources? Or does my mind fall into worries about the future or regrets about the past?

Honest answers to questions like these can tell us how much we have been influenced by the world. The good news is that God has provided a way that will allow us to hear him above all the clamor. More about that next week.

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