“The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on His foes and maintains His wrath against His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of His feet.… Whatever they plot against the Lord, He will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time.” Nahum 1:2,3,9
Are you a good listener? The Ninevites were not good listeners. They were people who lived in the capital city of Syria, which was named Nineveh. The Ninevites were ruthless, self-centered, heathen people who waged war, and then cruelly treated the people they conquered. The prophet Nahum prophesied against them by warning them of their destruction. He told them that God is jealous, vengeful, slow to anger and good (Nahum 1:2,3,9).
Could the Ninevites have repented if they had listened to Nahum’s message? The answer is “Yes!” Jonah had preached a similar message to them and the Ninevites had repented. They allowed God to change their hearts for a period of time, but then they turned away from God once again. How sad! Maybe you know of someone who has done something similar. Perhaps it may even be you. You listened once to God’s message, but then turned away. You may doubt if you are “allowed” to repent again. God was calling the Ninevites to become good listeners a second time through Nahum… just like He still calls you and me today.
You do not want to have a hard heart. That simply means you are not listening to God. The Bible warns not to have a hard heart which is due to rebellion against God (See 1 Samuel 6:6, Psalm 95:8, Hebrews 3:8,15; 4:7, Mark 16:14). When you choose to have a listening heart, you will be choosing a life that God can bless because you will be in right relationship with Him.
Are you a good listener? Wisdom, guidance and discovering truth are received by developing good listening skills. The Bible directly speaks to us about listening. Proverbs 1:5 states, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance.” James 1:19 states, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Proverbs 18:13 states, “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.”
How well do you listen to the preaching or personal reading of God’s Word? Become like Samuel and pray, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9). James 1:22, exhorts, “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” The Berean Christians exemplified excellent listening skills. Acts 17:11 states, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
SOMETHING TO DO
Test your listening skills with this six-point checklist which I was given. It really helps! Discover your listening strengths and weaknesses. Remember that a good listener is very intentional on wanting to hear, and not just be heard. How often do you:
1) CONCENTRATE on keeping the conversation on track?
2) RECAPITULATE-restate and confirm to ensure understanding?
3) ASK thought-provoking questions?
4) DEMONSTRATE a willingness to learn?
5) FOLLOW the speaker’s argument closely, even when you disagree?
6) ALLOW others to finish their thoughts?
After you give yourself the test, ask some other people how they rate you as a listener. Go over the same test with them. Be sure that you listen to what they say with a listening heart.
SOUL TIME PRAYER
Heavenly Father, I want to learn how to listen. I want to have good hearing skills. I do not ever want a hard heart. I want to be filled with Your wisdom, guidance and truth. I want to learn how to give people my undivided attention. Teach me today how to be a good listener. AMEN!