Listening is an act of love that builds connections, gains wisdom, and shows Christ’s compassion.
We often take listening for granted, yet it is a vital part of communication, relationships, and our faith. To listen is to give someone your full attention and focus, to hear the words someone is saying but also strive to understand the complete message being conveyed.
Developing our listening skills allows Christians to discern God’s voice, live out Jesus’ teachings, and better understand others. The following post explores why listening is such an essential virtue for Christians and look at biblical examples of great listeners whose lives were transformed by truly hearing others.
Why is Listening Important?
Listening is the foundation of all human relationships. When we listen, we build trust, compassion, and understanding. We show respect and care for the other person by listening first instead of rushing to speak. As Proverbs 18:13 warns, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.”
Listening requires patience, concentration, and an openness to ideas that may differ from ours. It means being present at the moment instead of mentally composing your following argument while the other person is still speaking.
For Christians, listening is crucial in several ways. First, it enables us to hear God’s voice and discern His will for our lives. The prophet Samuel learned this lesson when God called out to him at night as a young boy. 1 Samuel 3:9-10 records Samuel finally responding, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” Are we striving daily to say those exact words – “Speak Lord, for I’m listening”?
Listening also allows us to fulfill Jesus’ command to love one another. Listening defuses tension and helps us identify shared goals in conflict or disagreement. Jesus replied to critics by asking thoughtful questions, showing He was interested in their perspective. When the rich young ruler approached Him in Matthew 19:16, Jesus’ first response was, “What do you ask of me?” He listened first, then tailored His advice.
Listening is an act of service and honor. Listening to someone shows we value them and what they have to share. 1 Peter 2:17 instructs us to “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood…” Making time to listen demonstrates this honor.
Finally, listening enables us to be witnesses to Christ and share the gospel effectively. When we listen to people’s stories and struggles, we gain insight into how best to convey biblical truths to them. The apostle Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Listening helps us become all things to all people.
Biblical Examples of Great Listeners
The Bible highlights many great listeners whose open ears and hearts led them closer to God. Studying how they implemented this important virtue can teach us to become better listeners.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, sets a powerful example of listening for God’s will. Mary did not argue or push back when the angel Gabriel appeared to her with the shocking news that she would miraculously conceive Jesus. Instead, Luke 1:38 records her obedient response: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” Despite her understandable questions, Mary listened to God’s voice through Gabriel and praised Him for His plan.
Samuel learned to recognize God’s voice at a young age because of his listening attitude. It took some encouragement from Eli before Samuel responded to God’s third call with “Speak, for Your servant hears” in 1 Samuel 3:10. Samuel allowed God to transform him from a servant in the temple into the revered prophet who anointed King David.
Peter saw the glory of Christ revealed through listening. At the transfiguration of Jesus in Luke 9:28-36, Peter witnessed an awe-inspiring vision of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus in heavenly splendor. Yet Peter almost missed this miracle by eagerly offering to build shelters for them, perhaps to prolong the experience. Instead, a voice from heaven declared, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (v. 35). Peter discovered that he needed to listen to Christ.
Cultivating Listening in Our Faith
Listening is vital for connecting with God and others. Here are some tips for improving our listening skills as Christians:
1. Set aside regular quiet time to listen to God’s voice through prayer and bible reading. Be still before Him.
2. When someone is speaking, give them your undivided attention instead of mentally composing your response.
3. Ask thoughtful follow-up questions to understand the speaker’s perspectives and feelings better. Don’t rush to give advice.
4. Avoid interrupting or hijacking the conversation back to yourself. Let the speaker finish.
5. Reflect on what you heard to check your understanding. Clarify rather than assume.
The book of James compares the Christian life to looking in a mirror. Through careful listening, we come face to face with our fallen state and God’s glorious truth. We also discover how to “be quick to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19) in relating to others. As Christ listened to and lifted the marginalized, listening moves us to love beyond divisions. By developing this quiet virtue, we open our lives to transformation.
Listening is an act of love that builds connections, gains wisdom, and shows Christ’s compassion. As demonstrated in Scripture, great listeners like Mary, Samuel, and Peter were blessed by drawing near to God and discerning His voice. As we grow in listening – to God, Scripture, and others – we become channels of grace and are shaped more into Christ’s image.