listening and love (love isn’t given a chance when we close one-another out)

So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. – Romans 14:19

Some good conversation has been generated around the “That Spanking Thing” post (yesterday). So give it a look if you missed.

"Rock Solid." These guys are good
“Rock Solid.” These guys are good

LISTEN: Today we’re headed back to the kitchen, via some excellent discussion in my Wednesday evening “Iron Sharpens Iron” men’s small group Bible study.

We’re a couple of weeks behind my Saturday morning crew in the Book of Romans, and it always amazes me how the direction of conversation veers off in different directions depending on how the Holy Spirit is nudging/provoking/prompting.

This time, rather than focus on all Paul’s “do not” statements, we talked about what we can do that is positive, and that is incompatible with being judgmental? In other words, rather than being judgmental about the judgers, we’re more interested in what we can do to – as Paul put it – “aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.”

One of the men immediately talked about listening. “I often have my mind made up three words into what the other guy is saying,” he confessed. “I have it all figured out, because I know I’m right. I don’t even take the time to listen.”

Image pirated from Outlook
Image pirated from Outlook

EDITOR: This reminds me of a great conversation I had with editor/preacher Jack Haberer. We were both speaking at the same conference and I quizzed him about his work as editor for the independent Presbyterian news magazine, The Presbyterian Outlook (Jack is moving to Florida next month to pastor the Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church in Naples).

“You led a very conservative congregation before you took the job,” I said, “and you leaned fairly sharply to the right yourself. How has that played out as a journalist?”

“If I wanted to cover the news accurately, and to tell the story honestly, I had to listen,” Jack said. “And I found that the more I listened to people, the more I respected them, and the more I valued them as brothers and sisters in Christ. Listening is critically important. But it’s hard to do that when your only agenda is to demonstrate that you’re right and the other guy is wrong.”

IMG_4934KITCHEN: Our new kitchen is nearing completion (still to do: install appliances, trim, paint, backsplash, finish floors, fixes…). But it almost took on an entirely different shape when one of the carpenters (a highly skilled craftsman who does great work) dug his heels in and didn’t want to listen.

The old kitchen (pokey, tight, impractical) didn’t venture an inch beyond the invisible line dividing it from the “breakfast room.” Our new design treats the two spaces as one. The carpenter’s vision, however, could not cross the invisible line. That line, his inability to listen, and his predetermined conclusions, became an almost impenetrable brick wall.

Fortunately, we were able to insist that he lay out the cabinets according to our plan. So he did (under protest, shaking his head, and rolling his eyes). However, once every piece was in place, he said, “That’s awesome! I love this design.”

SPIRIT: I don’t think the Apostle Paul was that interested in everyone agreeing with each other. But I do know that he wanted believers to respect one-another, to aim for harmony, and to build one-another up.

DSC_0459One of the best ways we can do that is to listen. Active listening; patient listening; “I love you” listening. Love isn’t given a chance when we close one-another out.

In love, and because of love – DEREK


  1. I really like this statement: ” I don’t think the Apostle Paul was that interested in everyone agreeing with each other.” This is key. I don’t think God ever intended for us to throw our brains in the trash to become Christians. After all it was the different thinking that has brought much needed change to the world and the church like our nation’s forefathers and Martin Luther (as well as Martin Luther King). Many times I do not even agree with myself as situations and perspectives change, and sometimes I even mature in my spiritual and intellectual thinking. It is most important that we listen to our Christian brothers and sisters and either agree or agree to disagree peacefully.


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