Consider carefully how you listen...

Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.
 – Jesus, Luke 8:18


This message from Jesus has always confused me. I think the key to it is in the opening statement, "consider carefully how you listen." Do we do that? Do we ever consider how we listen, let alone consider it carefully?

I must question how I listen. Is my hearing blocked by busyness, experience, or circumstance so that I am only able to hear certain things a certain way? How does that disrupt my ability to hear God, Shawna, friends, enemies, and strangers? Is my receptive presence to others (aka hearing) just another way of my being present to myself and what I want to hear or what I want to avoid hearing?

Although our dog Kitty has big ears, she is deaf, but that doesn't stop her from giving us her full attention (and distracting us from watching the game).

How I am listening to others directly informs me of how I am listening to God (1 John 4:20). If purely listening to others is terribly challenging, how will I have the sensitivity and patience to hear a Gentle Whisper?

Considering how I am listening helps me know what kind of condition I am in: I am open-hearted or I am numb to the Divine Presence of God in all and through all; I am well rested and present or I am tired and overwhelmed; I am in love or I am afraid.

Considering how I am listening also helps me understand what I really believe about God: does God's tone sound like a gentle whisper or a mean authority figure? Does God's tone sound distant and removed or present and very near? Does God sound in love or enraged? (Considering this ultimately also reveals to me what kind of condition I am in.)

Then, once I've considered how I am listening, it's time to start practicing the art of purely listening...

Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.
 – Jesus, Luke 8:18