How Do We Bless Our Neighbor? Listen with Care
Encounter: Read through and meditate on Luke’s account of the blind beggar in Luke 18:35-43 and the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40 in the NIV and CEV translations. Ask Holy Spirit to impress upon you what it is you are needing to learn through these encounters.
In 1816, Rene’ Laennec, a French doctor was so uncomfortable with placing his ear directly on a woman’s chest to listen to her heart, he invented a piece of equipment that doctors still use today: the stethoscope. He was known for telling doctors and nurses, “If you use this tool, don’t stop listening to your patients, they will still tell you how to heal them.” Laennec didn’t want doctors to just listen to hearts and lungs with his invention. He wanted to ensure they still listened to the words and feelings of their patients.
When we follow Jesus, He calls us to listen with care to the people he puts into our lives. Pastor Dave Ferguson writes, “I wonder if we understand that we can be a huge gift to others just by listening to their hearts. A writer friend once told me, “Dave, everything one has a story, but few people who will listen to that story.”
Like Jesus stopping in the midst of a crowd and listening to the voice of a blind beggar cry out for healing or God bringing an Ethiopian and Jewish person together on a road trip so they would experience the kingdom of God together, we are called to listen to people, listen to our community, our coworkers, our classmates, our neighbors. To listen to their challenges, their hurts, their joy and their pain. Like Jesus we are called to listen to their stories to understand their need and with a spiritual stethoscope, listen to their hearts so they can tell us how to help them to heal.
Last week we began our BLESS initiative by beginning to intentionally pray for our neighbors. This week we focus on the letter “L” to be more aware of the power of simply listening with care as God gives us opportunities to connect with others in true spiritual community. We may think this all seems very simple, but we should never underestimate the power of beginning with prayer and listening. Just remember how those two things feel when you are on the receiving end of such gifts!
I am listening…
Reflect: Why do we have such a difficult time truly listening to the people around us? Have you ever felt unheard? What was that like for you? In Luke 18:35-42 What impresses you most about Jesus’ interaction with the man who was blind. How would you have felt if you were that man?
Encourage: Choose one person where you live, work or play and take time to get to know them by asking questions using the four H’s of listening listed in BLESS by Dave Ferguson:
· History: “Tell me your story.” “Where did you grow up?”:
· Heart: “What’s your favorite (team, restaurant, vacation destination)?”
· Habits: “What are you into, what do you like to do with your free time?”
· Hurts: “How are you doing with (name the situation)?”
These types of questions will help you become a great listener and encourager. And that allows you to become a better friend to your neighbors when they know you care about them and want to know who they really are.
Gather: Discuss in your small group some of your experiences as you have begun to pray for your BLESS list of people and any opportunities God has given you to listen with care.