The Art of Listening
5 But Rebekah overheard what Isaac had said to his son Esau. So when Esau left to hunt for the wild game, 6 she said to her son Jacob, “Listen. I overheard your father say to Esau, 7 ‘Bring me some wild game and prepare me a delicious meal. Then I will bless you in the Lord’s presence before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen to me. Do exactly as I tell you. 9 Go out to the flocks, and bring me two fine young goats. I’ll use them to prepare your father’s favorite dish. 10 Then take the food to your father so he can eat it and bless you before he dies.” (NLT)
Rebekah and Isaac had different ideas on which of their sons should receive the “firstborn birthright blessing”. Tradition said Esau, the firstborn. Rebekah believed that the Lord had spoken to her and that the birthright belonged to Jacob.
Rebekah was eavesdropping on Esau and his father, Isaac. Of course, Isaac and Esau were unaware that Rebekah was listening and therefore, did not realize the plot she was planning to steal Esau’s firstborn blessing.
The interesting part of this story to me is that Rebekah went against her husband, Isaac in his plans for their children. How do you think this story would have played out if Rebekah had gone to Isaac and talked to him about her desire for Jacob to receive the firstborn blessing instead of Esau? Would he have listened to her or would he have immediately dismissed her viewpoint? There were rules about who received the firstborn blessing. After all, it was called the firstborn blessing!
Listening is difficult if we disagree with what the other person is saying, if we do not respect the other people’s views, or if we are just plain bored with the conversation. Most of us want to express our views, our ideas, and our knowledge in the matter being discussed. When we stop talking and listen, we show respect for the other person. We demonstrate through our actions that we think what that person is saying is important.
One day many years ago, during my devotion time, the Lord spoke loudly to my heart from Ephesians, where the Word says, “see to it that a wife respect her husband”. I realized that there were areas in my marriage that I was not respecting my husband. I decided that I would change and I would start by listening to him. I remember how difficult it was for me to sit and listen and show my respect by keeping my mouth closed. If fact, it is still very difficult for me to do today, but I continue to try! The Word also says we are to speak the truth in love. Just because what we are saying is true, does not mean that we are to use our words as swords to slash each other. We are to speak in love.
Listening is denying oneself…what we think, what we know, what we want, and keeping silent until we are able to speak the truth in love.