Philip reacted quickly because he listened to the angel of the Lord.  As Philip listened, he gained understanding in what he was being asked to do and after obeying, recognized the purpose.  He didn’t interrupt to ask “Why?”  He didn’t try to interject his idea about what should be done.  He just did what he heard because he was quick to listen.

How many of us are quick to run toward a person or situation that may be difficult and really take the time to listen or discern?  It’s so much easier to have “Selective hearing” or even ignore it all together.  I know that I am guilty of this at times.

In any relationship, taking the time to understand one another is vital to the success and life of the relationship.  Conflict arises when two people don’t stop to listen to each other and instead misinterpret what has been said.  Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love & Respect, says that men and women listen through “blue and pink hearing aids,” respectively.  Jesus said, “The Creator made them male and female …” (Matthew 19:4 NIV).  Because men and women are different, we need to take the time and try to understand each other and our differences.

How can we listen to understand during a conversation?  A great tool is to repeat back to the person you’re talking with what you are hearing them say.  If there appears to be a misunderstanding or confusion, it can be corrected immediately.  A second tool is to ask specific questions back to the person for clarification or to help the conversation go to a deeper level. 

Learning

“If you don’t listen, you’re never gonna learn.” Frank Iero, musician

Most of us have spent at least 12 years in school with the majority of that time listening.  The purpose wasn’t to talk, but to listen and to learn.  I paid for another six years of schooling for an opportunity to listen to additional instructors with the hopes of learning more.  If there was one thing that I did learn it is that I’ve never learned anything by talking. 

Mary, sister of Martha, wanted to listen in order to learn from Jesus’ teachings:

 “She (Martha) had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. … Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” Luke 10:39 (NIV).

Mary chose what was best by stopping what she was doing and eliminating distractions that might cause her to miss what Jesus was teaching.  She didn’t busy herself with trying to “do” or “say” something, instead she sat, listened, and learned.

Being “quick to listen” takes patience and practice in all of our relationships.  Many times while a person is in the middle of talking, we rush to formulate an opinion, ask another question too quickly or segue into another topic without finishing the current one.  In our relationship with the Lord, it’s much easier to do all the talking rather than listening for his still small voice.

Genesis 19 tells us of how Lot warned his daughter’s fiancés about the destruction of the city, but they “thought he was only joking” (Genesis 19:14).  The angels led Lot, his wife and two daughters outside of the city before they destroyed it and warned “Don’t look back! ... or you will die.” (Genesis 19:17), but Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.