Love Listens

Aug 21, 2022

Part Two of Love Speaks series:
We will speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:14-15

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” – James 1:19

1. This starts with listening to God.

Following Jesus as Good Shepherd, knowing His voice, John 10:27. We should listen to Jesus’ teaching. Mark 4:23-25 Faith by hearing, Luke 11:28 Romans 10:17
As a Jesus follower, listening starts with listening to God who speaks through the Scripture, prayer, and the Holy Spirit.

“Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” – Galatians 3:5 .

2. We should value connection and understanding.

“True love cannot exist apart from understanding. A level of self-awareness and others-awareness is essential.”

If we are going to be able to speak the truth in love (agape love) we need a personal connection with whom we are speaking.

“It is important to remember that in order to love others, our love needs to connect with them.” Redeeming How We Talk by Ken Wytsma and AJ Swoboda

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

“We are called to love all people. But can I truly love someone I do not, at least to some measure, understand? Love requires at least some understanding of its object.” Duane Elmer

Love can be expressed through listening to people with an intent to understand them, connect with them, and show them loving respect.

“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too….same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” – Philippians 2:1-5

Good listening goes hand-in-hand with the mindset of Jesus Christ. It flows from a humble heart that counts others more significant than ourselves. It is patient and kind. This is one way we follow the example of Jesus Christ. By listening with an intent to learn and understand the other person. In this way we show loving respect for others in a healthy way.

3. Love can be expressed by good active listening.

“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” – M. Scott Peck The Road Less Traveled

“To love one another we must first hear one another. Next to prayer, listening is perhaps the best way to create a positive context for conversation. Listening forces us to exchange hats with others, to walk in their shoes. When we exchange hats, we develop empathy and understanding. Then we can more tenderly voice our concerns or offer our advice. We become like a doctor, attuned to the sore spots and thus more adept at treating them. You can never go wrong with listening, but you can rarely go right without it.” – Redeeming How We Talk by Ken Wytsma and AJ Swoboda

“faithful, patient, and kind,” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

It is patient and kind. This is one way we follow the example of Jesus Christ. By listening with an intent to learn and understand the other person. In this way we show loving respect and equality.

Learn to ask if you’re hearing what they are communicating. Restate it. “If I’m hearing you, this is what you are saying, thinking, feeling…”

A fool “gives an answer before he hears,” – Proverbs 18:13.

Ask Questions, listen and learn with intent to understand and so build empathy and compassion.

“Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.” – Proverbs 20:5

Good listening asks perceptive, open-ended questions that don’t set up yes and no answers, but gently invite expression through the layers of their thoughts and feelings, beneath the surface. It watches carefully for nonverbal communication, but doesn’t interrogate and pry into details the speaker doesn’t want to share, but meekly draws them out and helps point the speaker to fresh perspectives through careful, but genuine, questions.

There is a critical difference between good listening and bad listening. Good listening is an act of love following the example of Jesus. It requires patience, it is a service. Good listening prepares us to speak well. Good listening reflects our relationship with God. Bad listening does not show respect or value for the other person. Bad listening does not reflect the love of Jesus.

Bad listening is thinking about what you’re going to say next, TOO SOON.
Break the bad habit.

There are three important paragraphs on listening in the section on “the ministry of listening “in Dietrich Bon Hoffer‘s Life Together, as well as Janet Dunn’s classic Discipleship Journal article “How to Become a Good Listener.” –

Good questions bring out helpful responses.

What does this look like? Ask good open-ended questions. Listen with an intent to understand. Build empathy and compassion. This can be done without losing your sense of truth or self.

Listening in participation with the Holy Spirit. This brings God’s loving perspective in. It allows us an opportunity to serve, to love, to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead in a person’s life.

“It takes two to speak the truth. One to speak and another to hear.” Henry David Thoreau

What should we do?

1. Listen to God.
2. Think about what good active listening means.
3. Consider how you can show loving respect by asking questions.
4. Ask for help in improving your listening and learning.
5. Choose active listening with love as your motive.

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