Listen

 

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When we answer before listening, we prove to others that we are both stupid and rude.
Dallas and Nancy Demmitt Can You Hear Me Now? (2003)

According to God, we are supposed to love everyone, even our enemies. Yet half the time we won’t even listen to our friendly acquaintances, much less our enemies.  When we tune people out, we are being very unloving. Yes, it can be hard to listen to your enemies, but how can we ever attempt to make peace if we don’t?

“The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”
― Winston S. Churchill

No one knows everything, and everyone knows something.
I have to admit that I have from time to time tuned certain people out, assuming that they were either uninformed or misinformed. Which can be the case, but it is wrong to tune them out. There is one politician for example that has become famous precisely because she is under-informed and often seems to make up answers on the fly when she has no idea what she is talking about. Yet the other day she made a comment that was wildly intelligent, while I still believe she meant for her comment to be taken differently, she proved that she can be right. I even saw a video yesterday posted by a five-time felon who gave many people a lesson on tolerance. You never know where the truth will come from, but you have to keep your eyes and ears open to find it.

Proverbs 18:17
The first to state his case seems right
until another comes and cross-examines him.
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Yes, we are to listen to others, but we should be discerning while we listen. No one is perfect but God. When anyone else tells you something it is proper to ask questions. Look into it for yourselves.

One of the best debate tactics is to find common ground with the person you are debating, and built on that common ground. Something like: Can we both agree that already born children are valuable? Can be a good foundation to build a discussion on abortion. If you are unwilling to listen to people who oppose your ideas, you will not be able to find common ground.

Sometimes we use phrases like “fake news” to shut people down. Do you really know that it is fake news, or do you like the opposing view so much that you just hope it is fake news? If you don’t know for sure, find out.  While some stories are fake, it isn’t the fact that we don’t like the story that makes it fake, it’s twisting the truth, one-sided bias, and it’s total failure to match reality.

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Hi! How are you doing?

   The question “How are you doing?”  in one form or another probably gets asked about a billion times a day. Many of the times it is asked, it is asked by a stranger.  It could be by a cashier at the grocery store, or someone else who has been told by their boss to ask it to all their customers, or just said in passing by the average person.  Do we ever really sincerely ask that question, or is it just a cultural convention? This question was given to me years ago when I was at a local event. I walked into a tent that was being used as a store, and in passing, I asked the shopkeeper how he was doing. His reply was “Terrible!” I had been so used to asking this question as a cultural convention, that I almost didn’t hear the answer. When I realized that his answer wasn’t what I expected, I stopped in my tracks to talk to him. It turned out that he wasn’t doing terrible after all, he only said that as a test to see if anyone was listening or even caring.  He thanked me for being the only one out of the many states he visited to actually pay attention to his reply!!!

Now I know that we can’t always truly mean the question, if we are on the clock, or running late to pick up a child from school, we just don’t have time to properly listen and to help, but when we do we should pay attention to the answer. If we can, we should help people who truly are not doing well. We can ask their name and pray for them, offer to buy them a cup of coffee, anything just to prove to the person that the world isn’t as ugly as it may seem in the moment. The smallest act of kindness can change lives. I have even heard stories about people who intended to commit suicide who were stopped by a simple act of kindness.

Don’t have time to read the Bible? Try listening to it!