Active Listening


“Do you hear me?” My mother asked me that question a thousand times. Looking back, I am sure it was rhetorical. She really didn’t expect an answer—what she wanted was obedience. My problem was not poor hearing, but neglectful listening. I needed to be an active hearer.

I find it is easy to hear, but hard to listen. It is effortless to talk, but difficult to act. It is painless to dream, but costly to perform. James summed it up best: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was” (James 1:22-24).

In truth, many people who claim Christ are hearing, but not doing, the will of God—they are discussing, but not performing the work of God—and are quoting but not obeying the Word of God. If this is true, they face the worst kind of deception—self-deception! One who deceives himself thinks he is something he is not. He is deluding himself, or as the King James Version renders it, you are “deceiving your own selves.”

To be a “doer” of the word means you will do what it says, and not merely hear. If we hear without doing—listen without obeying—we will not be pleasing to God. Instead, we will be fooling ourselves into believing that we are pleasing Him.

Putting it another way, some may think they are Christians, when they have never actually trusted Christ as their Savior. That is the worst kind of self-deception, because it will impact their eternity. Others may think they are serving God by showing up, but are actually doing nothing for Him. John wrote, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). When people do what Jesus commands, they show that they know Him.

Some people talk a good game, but never get on the field. “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23). Someone described a football game as twenty-two people on the field badly needing rest being watched by seventy thousand people in the stands badly needing exercise. For most of us football is a spectator sport, but Christian service should never be like that. We must get into the game and get involved in the action, doing our part and willingly paying the price.

The fact is, we are saved to serve. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul wrote that the Ephesians were “His workmanship” – God’s masterpiece – “created in Christ Jesus” – born again by grace through faith in Christ Jesus – “for good works” – deeds and actions of service – “which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” – following His plan for our lives of ministry for Him. We are saved apart from works of any kind—unto works of every kind—for His glory.

On one occasion, the Lord challenged His disciples: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). It is one thing to call Jesus your Lord, but quite another to live with Him as Lord of your life, your decisions, your habits, your words and actions. If we call Jesus, Lord, we need to know Him and obey Him.

In January, 1933, during the midst of the Great Depression, a lady found this poem pasted to the wall of an old farm house. She was so impressed by its truth she copied it for each of her seven children. This powerful principle of life is still true today.


There’s a loving letter I mean to send,

There’s a visit I mean to pay;

There’s a careless habit I hope to mend,

When I get the time, someday.


I will carry flowers to the sick and sad;

I will seek for those who stray;

You may trace my steps by the hearts made glad,

When I get the time, someday.


There’s a dusty Bible I mean to read;

There’s an hour I’ll keep to pray;

And I’ll turn each dream to a golden deed,

When I get the time, someday.


So we have thought and so we have said,

Yet, how sad it is to relate—

That, busy with less important things;

We waited until too late—


We never will get the time, dear friend,

To be kind along life’s way,

Unless thoughtfully and prayerfully,

We make the most of today!

To become a Christian, we must actually repent of our sins and trust Christ, inviting Him into our lives. To do God’s will, we must actually do something! It is never enough to hear; not enough to wish; nor merely to talk or think—we must do His will and work! To actually do God’s will calls for faith, trust, prayer, commitment, action, diligence, endurance and faithfulness.

Why not make it your goal to hear and do the will of God in your life? Begin by receiving Jesus as your Savior. Follow up by joining a church where you can learn what God’s Word says and can surround yourself with like-minded believers. Then put your faith into practice by serving God where you live and work.

I wonder if God is not raising His voice to us, as my mom did years ago when she asked, “Do you hear me?” I hope you will be an active listener by receiving Him and doing His will, while you have opportunity, today!




Author: Larry E. Clements

Follower of Christ, fortunate to be husband to Pat, father of 5, grandfather of 12, writer, associate pastor of Pauline Baptist Church

2 thoughts on “Active Listening”

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