One day, Paul was writing a letter to the Roman church. He is quite clear about his intention in writing – he wants only the best for the nation of Israel. He goes one step further in explaining his intention – he wants their salvation. His real “heart feelings” are summed up in the words of Romans 10:3 when he says, “After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it.” (The Message) He goes on to outline the receiving of grace by faith - not a system of "works" - in the believing we are saved, not in the doing. Then he asks a question he says has been asked for years by almost every prophet or preacher along the way, "Is what I am saying really making any difference?" I think there are times we all ask this question - especially when it comes to sharing our faith. They very next thing he said caught my attention this morning:
Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ's Word is preached, there's nothing to listen to. (Romans 10:17 The Message)
The words which caught my focus today - BEFORE you trust, YOU have to listen. There are various stages we all go through prior to trusting someone, aren't there? For example, the first time someone told me dirt did not taste bad, you can imagine I was quite skeptical! It took some convincing on their part to actually get me to take the leap of faith to actually consume it! Yep, you heard me right - I ate the dirt! Now, this was probably not my wisest moment in life, but I have made it past the mid-century mark, so it probably did not do me any serious harm!
Before I trusted what my friends were telling me, I had to listen to a whole lot of arguments about how it could not hurt me. Guess what? Most of what we do in life is done in faith. When you put yourself behind the wheel each morning to head off to work, you have faith the engine will turn over as you press the ignition button or turn the key. When you turn on the faucet to take your shower, you expect hot water to pummel down. You are doing all kinds of things "by faith". How did you develop this faith? You listened!
As God moves in our lives, we are exposed to a whole lot of opportunities - what we do with what we are exposed to determines the outcome! As we listen to what he tells us, we might actually be moved to "apply" what it is we are hearing! Notice, I did not say we would AUTOMATICALLY apply what we heard. Obedience is seldom AUTOMATIC. In fact, it is a step of trust and trust is based on how well we are listening.
When I refer to our "listening" ability here, I am assuming we are doing the kind of listening which is "on purpose", with "sincere attention", and truly "in the moment". We actually probably do a whole lot of "second-hand" listening in our Christian walk - just like when we overhear bits and pieces of conversations and think we really know what others are talking about. We are probably actually surprised to find what we thought they were discussing is really not what we heard! We often aren't "intentional" in our listening - especially when it comes to opportunities God presents to us which are for the increasing of our faith!
Trust is based on listening. Listening is based on attentive focus. Therefore, if we are to build our faith, it is the intentional application of what we are listening to which produces the building of our faith! BEFORE we trust - we have to listen. Not sure what God may be speaking into your lives this morning, but it is definitely worth the "listen"!