1: to pay attention to sound
2: to hear something with thoughtful attention: give consideration
3: to be alert to catch an expected sound

Webster’s defines listenas hearing and giving consideration to what you have heard, be thoughtful about it, but no action is required in their definition of listen.

In contrast, the Greek word often translated as listen in Scripture means to pay attention to and obey (Louw-Nida).

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
Matthew 17:15 ESV

To listen to the beloved Son, is to obey. Not just give thoughtful attention to as an option. Not give it consideration before you decide. But to do what He says.

Parents complain about children who do not listen, not because the children don’t physically hear them, but because they do not do what they say. The same thing applies in our relationship with God the Father.

We are not listening, if we do not obey.

The first step of learning to listen is to get to know His Word. When I started walking with Him almost 20 years ago, I began reading my Bible daily and listening to what it said. With whatever understanding I had, I did it. However literal. However uncomfortable. Jesus had captured my heart, and I was going to listen, trust, and obey.

As I listened, He brought about deeper understanding. After a while, I began to hear Him in a new way, not just through His Word, His written commands, but with my spiritual ear. He spoke to my heart, specific things. Words for the moment. Ministry to begin. I listened. Stepped out — way out — of my comfort zone. By faith, when I believe He has spoken… I listen… not always perfectly… but this is the posture I try to maintain in my relationship with Him.

The Scripture describes Joseph as a righteous man, one who knew God’s law and obeyed. He had spent his life listening. Because he listened to the basics, God knew He could trust Joseph with a personal call.

When God told Joseph to lay down his understanding of righteousness and take Mary home as his wife even though she was pregnant and it was not his child — he listened.

When God told Joseph to leave Bethlehem because King Herod was searching for the baby with murderous intent — he listened.

When God told Joseph to return to Israel after King Herod died — he listened.

Joseph listened attentively and played an important role in making the way for Jesus to bring salvation to the world.

What about you? Do you listen to His Word? Or do you just hear it?

In our relationship with God, it’s important to practice listening to His Word and for His voice: to be alert to catch an expected sound.

If you aren’t listening with expectation and a willingness to obey, you are deceiving yourself about who you are in Him…

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.
James 1:22 NRSV

Continuing to listen… to the best of my understanding…

Carol Weaver

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