December 29, 2010

Listen, Respect & Learn

He listened to
The heavens roar, the earth quake,
The wind blow, the leaves shake,
And then the voice of his Creator,
“Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?”
Then learnt and fathomed he his wrong.
Job repented in dust and ashes.

Today the message is very simple and straight. Listen, respect and learn.

Let’s start with this article itself. I’m not going to be quoting any fancy examples or bringing out any deep thoughts from the scriptures. Still, however plain, long, boring and familiar it may look, read on, listen on.

We need to listen! That’s the first thing we need to learn. There is so much talking and noise around the world. Everyone wants to talk and make their point be heard across, we not being excluded. We may have so many better stories to share, could be better gifted to expound from the scriptures, may have better solutions to a problem or we may be gray haired which in itself explains a lot. Still, listen.

It takes efforts to listen to the other person and their opinions. Sometimes, it might even call for some amount of sacrifice. On the other hand, that someone might not have anything big or important to share or that something may not even appeal to you taste. So what? Listen. By doing this you show that you respect them. Respect and patiently listen to others and their opinion because there will definitely be something you can learn through it. Further, listen and don’t just hear. We can hear things and shove it out through the other ear. But listen patiently! Take a step ahead and think over what you hear.

Respect the person irrespective of age or qualification and appreciate what the other person’s got to say even though they be advices. Advices are the hardest things to listen to, keep aside respect. And advices from a person who hardly knows anything what we are going through, is bitter. Advices from whomever it may come, listen, respect and learn something from it. Oh, yes, it’s difficult to respect what we listen.

You know, we human beings are very selfish. We all the time are looking out for things that please us, things that we need, things that can benefit us. We spend a lot of time thinking about ourselves, thinking about our problems and worries. But would we stop and look around? Look at the world we live in, the so many people that we come across everyday. Look at the so many things happening day in-and-out around us, and listen.

Listen to what the people got to say; listen to what the world is crying out for; listen to the problems that the people are facing. Listen! There are so many lessons to learn from the things around us. Give them some time and listen to them, and they will listen to you and respect you. Not only will they respect you, but you will also learn a lot from them and about them. We miss out on so many things that make life beautiful, just because we are so selfish and don’t listen.

One of the greatest things that keep us from practicing this is the ‘I know it all’ attitude. You may have skipped many lines above maybe because there wouldn’t have been anything much to learn or you would have read something like that before. So what if you read it again? So what if you hear that same old message again? There certainly will be something for you to learn.

The ‘I know it all’ attitude or problem comes basically because of pride. It’s hard to accept this. But here is where I wish to stress. After being in this similar ‘I know it all’ problem, I’ve realized that this is a very important thing to practice to come out of it. Sometimes we claim we know everything, all the rights and wrongs, all the problems that we are facing, the best solutions to go about a problem and we don’t give any much value to what the other person got to say. Hey, please keep the ego aside, and learn to listen, respect and learn from every opinion and from every person.

Listen to others and don’t disregard certain people because of some pre-formed notions that we have of them. We tend to ignore old people because of their monotony or their old-style talks and practices. But there’s a lot to learn from them, through their testimony and years of experience. Listen and respect because it might be something that’s going to help you a long way ahead and make you wise someday.

Let me sum it up with this verse:

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels. (Pro 1:5)

Two Face

It’s an easier job to take a pen and paper and preach when compared to how humungous a task it is to be consistent and striving in practicing what you preach. It gets more complex for you as a writer when you are being observed by many people beginning with your family as to whether you are living up to the talks that you preached. Further, when people look up to you, or people are encouraged by you, or even when they pray for you, the complexity involved in living up to those standards increases.

Let people have their say of opinions; but at the end of the day, it boils down to whether you can look back at the day gone by and find yourself having lived a life acceptable to God or not. It’s then when some things seem to just not be happening the way it should be. A vibrant and growing Christian life gets so easily sidetracked and forgotten through our everyday routine that we start getting comfortable living a bland and passive Christian life. Doing spiritual things become so much a routine that things such as quiet time, evangelical ministries or church ministries just become mere activities and dead routines which leaves us with a feel-good feeling. It’s important to say that we just satisfy our flesh by doing all these kind of spiritual activities. It’s easy to organize activities, volunteer, co-ordinate things, sit hours and hours together involved in a certain work, all with a Christian tagline attached to it, and yet at the end of it leave aside the important things of making sense of the Word of God in our lives. So often, we, like Martha, are found elsewhere but at the feet of the Lord.

It’s important to emphasize again that these just fulfil the lust of the flesh, if you skipped reading that before. Because it’s something very hard to digest that everything that we profess to do for God can be counted of no value in the sight of God. If you really can put yourself in my shoes and try understanding what it means to be in such a situation, you would only dread being a victim of such a sin.

In our other life unseen to others, we tend to play around with the pleasures of this world and at the same time with the things of God, as if it really doesn’t matter. Sometimes I wonder as to what exactly should one label a Christian such as I who professes a certain lifestyle and practices another. Pathetic? Maybe. It’s easy to put on a show to others. But the real me finds himself doing a little for God, doing a little for Satan; giving some time for God, giving some time for Satan; talking a little good, talking a little sin. It’s such an irony to be a Peter and at the same time yet another Pharisee. How often do we find ourselves stuck in this bland, lukewarm and passive Christian life! On the flipside, we realize all of this and yet, still find ourselves doing those same things over and over again. It sometimes just leaves you thinking about how worthless a Christian you are. At such
junctures, so often, we second with Paul on his strong words, “I am the chief of all sinners.” Sometimes we stare at those verses stuck around on the walls of our room engraved with God’s commandments and wonder how we could so easily break that same commandment over and over again. And sometimes as we glance through those beautifully coloured picture hangings of God’s
promises, all we do is just sigh because we don’t even find ourselves worthy of those promises. At such junctures, it then just feels a little too shameful to ask God again for forgiveness. 

I thank God that he has given us his Holy Spirit that pricks us and convicts us through his Word about the mistakes in our lives and presses on that we change our lives. And I’m happy that God doesn’t spare us nor does he flatter us with soothing words when we come to his presence. His Word is as a two-edged sword that pierces our soul deep within and admonishes us in the areas we are wrong.

It’s never too late to give up living this sin. It’s a challenge for each one of us to give up this double life. In chapter 4:8-10 of his epistle, James exhorts and encourages us with a simple message. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” It’s amazing to see how God still loves us in spite of how pathetic we are. In spite of how unworthy a people we are, he is still seeking out for us like the prodigal son’s father who searched day in and out hoping and praying to see any signs of his son. It’s for us to return to him. We can’t be neutral or self-sufficient. We have to serve God or Satan. It’s for us to discard these two faces.