Are you listening to me? Every parent out there has said these words to their children at least once. We see them looking at us, at times even nodding as if they understand. But then, they go and behave as if what we said went in one ear and out of the other. Part of parenting is getting our children to understand the difference between hearing and listening. If we’re honest with ourselves though, we would admit that we too are guilty of hearing instruction, but not listening to it.
Throughout scripture we can see God’s desire for His children to listen to Him. In the Gospels and in Revelation, Jesus repeatedly says, “He who has ears, let him hear.” In today’s vernacular, Jesus is standing there, firmly asking the question, “Are you listening to me?” But it goes even beyond that. The expectation when we listen is that we turn it to action.

  • John 10:27: My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

Jesus highlights that His sheep listen to His voice. In the Amplified version, this verse says that His sheep hear AND listen. This distinction is critical because listening is intentional. It requires effort. For us, that engagement includes reading our Bibles, regularly worshipping the Lord, praying to Him, and spending time in His presence allowing Him to speak to us. It isn’t one or two of these things – occasionally; it is all of these things – regularly.
But before you balk at what God is calling you to do in your walk with Him, remember the lengths you went to in getting to know your spouse. There was no cost too great, no sacrifice too large, no investment of time, focus, and attention that wasn’t worth it for the return of growing in your relationship with the one you love so dearly.
Jesus identifies the same relational return as the result of truly listening to His voice. He says that listening to Him leads to: relationship (I know them) and action (they follow me). Investing ourselves in listening to the Lord results in knowing Him and His will & direction. You see, we study His word to recognize and know His voice. In that study our relationship with Him grows, and we get to know Him. A deeper relationship with the Lord leads to an understanding of how to apply His word, how to follow Him.
This is critical. In fact, putting the word into action is just as important is the process of listening and growing in relationship with Him.

  • James 1:22-24: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

James, Jesus’s own brother, tells us to be more than just hearers of the word, we must be doers. God’s word is truth. It is so perfect and complete that when we study and listen to it as we are instructed, it becomes a mirror that reveals the things in our lives God wants to change or use. When we examine ourselves in the mirror of God’s truth we gain understanding of His expectations for us. But doing nothing with that knowledge is as if we’ve put the mirror down and forgotten who we are.
James goes on and removes all doubt as to what this behavior really is, sin.

  • James 4:17: If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

I don’t include this verse to scare you or manipulate you into obedience to the Lord. Rather, this verse speaks to the awesome responsibility we have as believers to listen, engage in relationship with God, and act. You know what God is looking for in your walk with Him right now. I challenge you to give yourself over to listen to the Lord, the kind of listening that involves complete surrender of will, and complete obedience in deed.
This Sunday we wrap up our Names of God study with Jehovah Sabaoth. This is my favorite name, Lord of Hosts, God of the Angel Armies. He is God Almighty! I look forward to seeing you there this Sunday.
In His Service,   
John McRae