Ernest Hemingway once said, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” Regrettably, our society has become increasingly distracted, inclined to multitask, and not willing to give full attention to the matter at hand. We have not become good listeners. And our deep polarization only adds to the concern. A Brown University study showed that polarization among Americans has worsened faster than residents of other prominent democracies. (January 21, 2020)

Listening is essential for us to communicate with others. On the surface it seems easy, but the discipline requires focus and intentionality. We are able
to hear sounds, but listening demands discipline. In James 1:19 we read, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become
angry.” (NIV)

How many times have we spoken harshly about someone before we actually heard them tell their story or share their perspective? I know my hand is
raised! It’s critical we deeply consider the words of others. Faithful listening can dramatically change the way we perceive a person or situation.

Now listening also means paying attention not only to the verbal, but the non-verbal as well. We can learn a lot about someone in the way they express themselves and provide, or do not provide, eye contact. What is not said, too, is sometimes just as important as the words that are spoken.

Jesus picked up on the nonverbal signs of others (think of Caiaphas and Pilate), but he also simply took time to take in the words of those he encountered. Lengthy conversations are found in John 3 and 4. In these chapters, Jesus takes time to listen to Nicodemus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well. He listens to understand, help, assist, and express a love for his neighbor. By listening, he is able to plant seeds that will change lives. As Jesus
listens, we need to listen. Jesus tells us, “He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:15)

As we move into this New Year of 2022, might we make an extra commitment to listen better, verbally and non-verbally! What a meaningful way to
be a loving person!

Blessings to each of you! Scott