Summary: Listening to God's Word brings us into the kingdom, and it is by listening to it that we grow and become sanctified. That is why Jesus says to the churches in Revelation over and over, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit has to say to the churches."
Benjamin Franklin decided to take stock of him self one New Years, and try to figure out why he
seemed to alienate people, and why he lost friends so easily. He discovered that one of his major
flaws was that he was not willing to listen to others. He had all of the answers and was arrogant. He
did not need to listen to other people's foolish opinions. Franklin did an amazing thing; he learned to
listen and became one of America's most famous diplomats. His whole life and the history of
America was changed by his learning to listen. He wrote, "A pair of good ears will drink dry a
hundred tongues. He learned that when you talk you only say what you know, but when you listen
you learn what someone else knows.
In spite of the fact that listening is such a vital part of learning and life, it is perpetually on the
verge of being a lost art. Ralph Nichols from the University of Minnesota, who has been a leader in
promoting in the art of listening in his book Are You Listening?, says people in general do not know
how to listen. The reason is because nobody is training their ears anymore. For centuries the ear
was the key to learning. All through the Bible times this was the case. We could spend hours just
looking at all the references to the ear in the Bible. It was by means of the ear that the wise sought
knowledge. It was the constant battle of God to get His people to incline their ears to His Word. God
told Jeremiah, "Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem." Dozens of texts lament that God's people have
not inclined their ears unto the Lord. They have ears but they hear not is the sad note in the Psalms
and the Prophets.
One of the most frequent sayings of Christ in the Gospels is, "He that has ears to hear let him
hear." This is also one of the most frequently repeated phrases in the book of Revelation. It is by
listening that we are to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Reading has only
been the primary source of learning for the last couple of centuries. But because of the dominance of
books people have ceased to think of the ear and have gone overboard in training the eye. We think
the Bible days are long gone and that we have progressed beyond the need to focus on the ear. Ralph
Nichols and many other scholars have revealed just how wrong modern man is. We spend 3 times as
many hours in listening as we do in reading, but we are not trained to listen. Forty five per cent of
our communication time is spent in listening, but we do it poorly because we have only trained the
eye. We graduate from our eye training schools, and then go off to an ear oriented world, where
listening is the key to success.
Many people no longer read after they graduate, and for the rest of their lives they are most
influenced by what they hear. People on the jury decide the fate of others by what they hear and not
by what they read. We tend to vote based on what we hear from the candidates and not by what we
read. Nichols has been a leader in the movement to get listening clinics developed to help people
learn to develop the art of listening. Acts 22 is an excellent basis from which we can learn how
relevant listening is for the Christian. I counted nine examples of listening in this chapter. Everyone
in it is involved in listening, and their destiny id being determined at this point by how well or poorly
I have not read the whole book of Acts with this idea in mind, but a quick survey convinces me
that the entire book revolves around the theme of listening. Good listeners hear God's good news and
they repent and receive Jesus as their Savior. Bad listeners block their ears and refuse to hear God's
Word, and they do foolish and evil things that leads to judgment. When Stephen gave his testimony
Acts 7:57 says, "At this they covered their ears." Then they rushed upon him and stoned him to
death. Story after story in Acts reveals people listen and are saved, or they don't listen and are lost.
Heaven and hell lie in the art of listening. We see it again in Acts 22, and the first point we want to
look at is,
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING.
If we are going to take it seriously that listening is one of the keys to a better life and a happy