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28

Listen to the needs of Others

by
Scott Benson

Ask God to speak as you interact with today's Scripture and devotional.

“As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. So he began shouting, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ ‘Be quiet!’ the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘I want to see!’ And Jesus said, ‘All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.’ Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.” — Luke 18:35-43 (NLT)

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to be more interested in what you have to say than listening to what others are saying? Maybe you’ve been in conversations where you’ve suddenly realized that you were no longer listening, but simply preparing what you were about to say next. You might have heard the saying, “The opposite of listening is not speaking. It’s waiting to speak.” Taking the time to listen and understand what others are thinking and feeling is essential for building intentional relationships with our neighbors. It could be the kindest and most loving thing we ever do for them. 

David Augsburger said, “Being heard is as close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable” (David Augsburger, Caring Enough to Hear and Be Heard, p. 12). But as Dave and Jon Ferguson note, whenever people “feel unheard and unknown, it ultimately leaves them feeling unloved.”

Jesus’ ministry was marked by Him asking more questions than He answered. He knew the value of dialing in to people’s lives, taking the time not just to hear their words, but to really listen. In Luke 18, Jesus’ interaction with a blind man named Bartimaeus is a prime example. (In Mark 10, we learn the blind man’s name is Bartimaeus). 

As Jesus is leaving Jericho with a large entourage, Bartimaeus starts calling out to Him. Even with people telling him to be quiet, Bartimaeus is persistent. He’s desperate to get Jesus’ attention. Suddenly, Jesus hears his cry, stops the parade, and commands the very people who insisted that Jesus would never have time for someone like Bartimaeus, to bring him over. What an incredibly surreal moment that must have been for Bartimaeus. 

But then Jesus asks Bartimaeus a very curious question: “What do you want me to do for you?” Although the answer might have seemed obvious given the fact that Bartimaeus was blind, Jesus takes the time to ask the question. He wasn’t assuming that He already knew Bartimaeus’ answer. So Jesus asked the question … and then waited for Bartimaeus’ reply.

If we want to love our neighbors well, we’ll begin by praying for them and then take the time to really listen. We pray. We listen. And we ask questions that invite our neighbors to open their lives to us.

Dave and Jon offer some categories of questions that are helpful in developing our listening skills:

  • History: Tell me your Story. Where did you grow up?
  • Heart: What’s your favorite (team, restaurant, vacation destination)?
  • Habits: What are you into? What do you like to do with your free time?
  • Hurts: How are you doing with (name the situation)?

reflect

Answer the questions below and write down any other thoughts and prayers to God in your Life in Rhythm journal.

  1. Who are people you know who listen well? How have you felt loved when they’ve listened to you?
  2. What’s your biggest challenge in listening well? 
  3. What impresses you most about Jesus’ interaction with Bartimaeus? 
  4. How could Jesus’ example shape the way that you intentionally listen?
  5. Who do you need to listen to? What questions could you ask? 
  6. Ask the Spirit to empower you to listen like Jesus.

Go deeper (optional)

Every day you'll have an opportunity to "go deeper" into God's Word by practicing the REAP study method. Read the following scripture and use your journal and the REAP method to unpack the following scripture and apply it to your life.

Philippians 2:1-4
Learn more about reap