Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!Proverbs 15:23 (NLT)
Throughout the years, I’ve had my hearing checked a bunch. Some of it was required for routine physical exams as I progressed through my childhood, other times were just to check on my ear health. My step-dad was in the hearing aid business for a long time, so I’ve also had my aging ears checked in my middle-agedness. I kind of like it. It’s a challenge to listen for the various tones.
Of course, there were times where I let my mind wander during the hearing test, and I’d totally miss hearing some of the test tones. I’d be daydreaming, or thinking about the sports game I watched on TV the other night, or even wondering what my friends were up to. Either way, if I wasn’t paying attention, actually listening for it, I missed out on what it was that I was supposed to be listening for.
In this day and age, listening is becoming extinct. I’m not talking about just hearing. I’m talking about actually concentrating on what is being said by another human being. Listening is engaging with what they are saying. Hearing is simply realizing that there are sounds coming out of their mouths. We do a lot more hearing than listening these days.
I believe part of the reason is that we are bombarded by sound. There’s the ambient noises of life (sirens, cars driving by, birds chirping), then there’s the music pouring out of our headphones, the droning of the speakers from our televisions or computers, or a million other sounds. We’re used to hearing. Listening, not so much.
Listening requires concentration. It requires our attention. It requires us to show respect to the person speaking to us. It requires us to get out of our own head and selflessly pay attention to someone else.
As our verse today states, “Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!” But, to do this, we must listen, really listen to one another.
So, today, and every day, spend time in conversation. Actively engage in listening to each other. Give thoughtful, fitting replies. Stop just hearing, and begin to really listen.