Mary: Learning to Listen

We live in a fast-forward world where busy-ness is equated with importance and success. We think that because someone is busy, that person must be important. But the Lord says that the way the world sees things is not how He sees them. And the result of our busy-ness is just that — busy-ness.

We’ve become too busy to listen anymore.

One person from whom we can learn Godly listening is through the innocent heart of a woman named Mary, better known as one of two sisters, Mary and Martha. Their story is one of the most beloved stories in the New Testament, and it depicts a contrast between these two sisters.

They lived together, served together, came from the same parents and spent most of their lives at each other’s side. They were almost identical in every way except one … and that one difference makes all the difference in the world.

Let’s look at their story:

“Now as they were traveling along, [Jesus] entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42).

Only one thing is necessary and Mary had chosen it — listening. She was seated at Jesus’ feet, listening to His Word. Listening is something we have to make a conscious decision to do in the midst of a busy world.

When was the last time you sat at His feet and listened? Really think about that. When was it?

Too often, I identify with Martha more than I do with Mary. I tend to get too busy to listen. I invite you to sit, just as Mary did, and learn an indispensable life lesson that will lead to success.

You may have heart the world give many formulas for success, but really there’s only one way to succeed and Mary found it — learn to listen to God.

  1. Listen

Listening to God is the only way to succeed in life. The only way to listen to Him, however, is to first hear Him and catch His transmissions.

God is clearly transmitting messages to us every second of the day. All we have to do is slow down, stop, be still and listen. We can’t be so busy and consumed with our own lives that we miss the most important thing — Jesus.

Otherwise, like busy bee Martha, He can be staring us in the face and we’ll still miss Him!

The lesson for us here is that prayer has to be more than just talking to God. Prayer is a two-way street where we talk to God but we also must listen to Him. Listening—especially in prayer—is indispensable to you and me because that’s how we get to know the heart of our Father.

If we’re careful to tune in to Him and just listen, we’ll catch amazing revelations. We’ll hear phenomenal promises. We’ll gain wisdom beyond human comprehension. Listen, just listen. Hear what He has to say.

The first pre-requisite for succeeding in life is we must learn to listen. The second pre-requisite for having ears that hear and souls that are still is that when He speaks (please catch this because it is so important), when He speaks we must obey.

  1. Obey

In Hebrew, the word for “listen” includes the word “obey.” In the Old Testament, it’s that important. The Hebrews understood the importance of listening AND obeying. They’re one and the same! When you hear Him speak, you automatically obey. One cannot happen without the other; they should happen simultaneously.

Listening = Hearing + Obeying

If we only listen without obeying, it defeats His whole purpose, doesn’t it? Why should He keep speaking? We have to follow through on our part and complete the action of hearing by obeying.

It is so important for us to tune our ears, like a radio receiver, into His voice and then obey. That way, He can keep transmitting.

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21).

God is saying that if you listen, not just hear but truly listen, you will get to know God. He will disclose Himself to you. It’s when we not only have His commands but also keep them that we show true love. And when true love is in place, He is able to entrust us with more of His Kingdom treasures. It all starts with a heart that tunes in and instantly obeys the voice of God.

  1. See the Rewards

The final point in learning the indispensable life lesson of listening is really not an active point at all; it’s simply receiving the rewards of your labor. When you have listened and obeyed that’s all it takes for God’s blessings to come pouring into your life. At that point, you get to sit back and watch the rewards come flowing through. It’s as simple as that.

Learn the vital life lesson of listening and obeying. By doing so, you develop ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart to truly understand the things of God.

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