How listening spares us pain
Too often we confuse two terms – ‘to hear’ and ‘to listen’ – and equate them to mean the same thing. ‘To hear’ simply means to be aware of sound with the ears, without necessarily paying attention to somebody or something. ‘To listen,’ on the other hand, is much more engaging. It requires paying attention to what we hear. To listen to somebody is to take notice of what (s)he says in order to follow their advice or believe them.
Consequently, listening well does more than give us necessary information. Sometimes it spells the difference between success and failure, pleasure and pain. The failure to listen can cause us a great deal of headache, and sometimes crippling setbacks.
The Israelites appeared too overjoyed and over confident after their Jericho victory. They took the matter into their hand by not consulting God on their planned attack on Ai, which paled in size to Jericho. The result? They were soundly beaten in a setback that caused grief and fear in the Israelite camp.
Like the Israelites, we often presumed on God and rush into areas where angels dread to tread.
When we end up with avoidable bruises, setback(s) or attack(s) from the devil, we fall prostrate like Joshua to query God, why? Why now? But it would profit us to note that listening to God and carrying out His instructions will do us a world of good, always.
A listening ear is an obedient one. And obedience to instructions brings life, peace, joy, promotion and happiness. A disobedient heart is a hardened one. God cautioned Pharaoh, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me’, but he refused. That refusal brought disaster to Egypt. A certain woman cautioned her daughter not to attend a friend’s party. She went ahead and got involved in an accident that confined her to a wheel chair. Obedience is better than sacrifice, always.
Two battles, different strategies – Israelites’ push for victory in Jericho and Ai came with different game plans. In Jericho, God gave Joshua an order to rout the city with a promise to back them up. Second, God laid out the military strategy to win the battle. God ensured victory and took the glory.
But it was a different ball game in Ai. God without doubt had a battle Strategy for Ai, but Joshua was not patient enough to hear it. Joshua presumed on God and sent spies to the land. He believed their report without consulting God. Moreover, God had told the people not to touch the ‘accursed things’ of Jericho.
But Achan snubbed that order and kept a fine Babylonian garment, 200 shekels of silver and wedges of gold for himself, burying them in his tent. Had Joshua asked for God’s direction before setting out for Ai, God would have exposed Achan’s sin and nipped the problem in the
bud. Then Israel would have had another hitch-free outing and avoided avoidable loss of innocent men in battle.
How do you react to God’s instructions to you through His ministers, visions and revelations?
Do you take out time to seek His face in so-called minor and crucial life matters? Factoring God into your decisions can save you a life time of sorrows and crippling setbacks for generations unborn.
Consider the disaster Adam and Eve brought on the human race and the consequences of your action(s) or inaction(s) before you do it.
When God speaks – God speaks to us, when we choose to listen, in diverse ways. He could speak to us through the Bible, His anointed ministers, dreams, visions and still small voice. Our God is a loving Father who will never allow His own to suffer unjustly. He speaks to warn His own of any impending danger when the enemy sets traps, He provides means of escape in times of drought and starvation when all hope is lost, He always sends succour to His people.
When God speaks, abundance replaces lack, healing terminates sickness, life displaces death and joy puts an end to sorrow. Our God speaks to give hope to the hopeless, He restores life to every dry bone and He makes the rejected to be accepted. However, God does not discriminate in speaking to people. The only thing that can keep God’s presence away from you is sin. Keep away from sin and keep your relationship with God straight. Then you will experience a renewal of God’ interactions.
It pays to listen and obey – Just as we tried to draw a fine line between ‘to hear’ and ‘to listen’ in the introduction, the Bible also looks at the word ‘to hear’ in two ways. The first tallies with the introduction, i.e. to be aware of sound without paying attention to it, resulting in no cognition or action. The second concept goes beyond listening to obeying what has been said. Jesus spoke in this context in the Scripture. Paul also spoke in the same vein in the Scripture.
Because our God declares the end from the beginning, He knows what will happen in the future. If He then warns us of something, we must heed Him. God warns the Israelites not to touch any of the accursed thing but Achan’s disobedience brought sorrow and death to Israel, while the man paid his life for ignoring the prophet.
Disobeying simple instruction can also cause delayed miracle. Syria was to be smitten once for Israel to conquer them but because the king of Israel did not obey simple instruction from the prophet, Israel had to smite Syria thrice before victory. Other consequences of not listening are pains, frustration, failure, disappointment, sickness, afflictions, etc.
However, it pays to listen. Ahab’s life was preserved because He heard the voice of God from the prophet and he truly humbled himself. Listening can also avert evil and sickness like it did for Naaman. Simple listening and obedience to the instructions of God will always spare us pains and make us see the glory and goodness of God.