Read Matthew 15:21-28
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“My child, listen and be wise: Keep your heart on the right course.“ (Proverbs 23:19)
Family time has always been important to me. As a child, I grew up in a home where both my parents valued and encouraged family time. One of the ways that we spent time together as a family was at the dinner table. My mom and/or my dad would cook dinner and we would sit together and eat. Our dinner time was not just about eating; however, it was very much centered on good, ole’ fashioned conversation.
As an adult and a parent, I still hang on to that value. If you ask my wife or my children, they will tell you how important it is to me for us to be spending family time together, including but not limited to the dinner table. And at the dinner table, aside from my egging them all on about how unhealthy their food is (I mean I have to have some fun as a vegan), we spend a lot of time listening to each other. We listen to how each of our days were, we listen to all of the things that excited us, we listen to all of the things that upset us, we listen to each other express ourselves in a variety of ways.
Perhaps what I just wrote above strikes you funny, or perhaps you didn’t pick up on my wording at all, but the key action that ties our time together as a family is listening to each other. One of the most important, yet most neglected, things in our culture is the art of listening. In today’s world we are so inundated with our own personal soundtracks, our own agendas, our own judgments, biases and egos to silence ourselves. No one really seems to care to listen anymore. Rather than take the time it requires to listen to what others are saying, to what they are truly expressing, we head off into rash judgments and close the doors to any sort of beneficial dialog.
In Matthew 15, we see Jesus being urged by his disciples to not take the time to listen to the Gentile woman who was begging for Jesus to heal her daughter. They wanted him to send her away, after all, she was bothering them with all her begging. The disciples were not truly listening to her, they weren’t compassionately putting themselves in her shoes. In some ways, even Jesus didn’t truly listen to her at first, as evidenced when, in essence, he told her that it wouldn’t be right for him to heal her daughter since she was a Gentile. Yet, in the end, Jesus did listen and, in her expression, Jesus saw her heart and her faith. Rather than pushing her away, rather than silencing her plea for the healing of her daughter, rather than invalidating her need for his help, Jesus listened to her and, following that, a miracle happened.
The point of all of this is that God is calling each of us to speak less and listen more. Whether we need to take the time to listen to others or we need to pause and take the time to truly listen to ourselves, listening is an essential component to the human relationship. It is through the art of listening that relationships grow and prosper. It is through the art of listening that we gain understanding of others and of ourselves. It is through the art of listening that we find ourselves open to the miraculous things that God has in store for us. Be still and learn to listen.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.“ – Bryant H. McGill
Lord, teach me to be a better listener to other as well as to myself. Amen.