From birth, parents talk to their children, first cooing, baby talk, nourishing words of love and affirmation. A child knows the voice of his/her parents.
As the child grows, parents began ‘teaching talk’—words to guide, words to teach communication, words to protect. Words like mama, dada, yes, no, baby, names of siblings and relatives, names of body parts, etc. This talk establishes communication with the child as it provides bonding, nourishment, and relationship.
When we are born into the Kingdom of God, God speaks to us nourishing words of love and affirmation. As a child of God, we are able to recognize his voice as we learn to read and study his word and as we attend church and listen to the ministry God has placed there to grow us up.
The word ‘listen’ connotes to hear and obey.
As children grow up, they eventually began to take on responsibilities as they listen to their parents and to those in authority. They learn to listen as they are taught to avoid dangers such as roads and streets, waterways, dangerous appliances such as hot stoves and electrical items, and dangerous creatures like snakes, wild animals, and strangers.
They learn essential skills as they listen to parents and teachers who teach them to read, write, work math, etc. They learn to listen to others as a matter of courtesy and to gain information which will benefit them in their lives.
Problems arise when a child does not listen to the parents and/or those in authority. This often begins early in life as a child’s self-will overrides the authority and he chooses to do his own will. She may experience pain, such as a burn on a hot stove. He may get into trouble for being disobedient to those in authority. She may have to suffer the consequences for failing to do her chores, for breaking something, for failing to have her homework, or for talking in class.
A child who does not learn to listen to those in authority will have trouble listening to God as an adult.
Listening to God
We are God’s children, and he talks to us. When we are new babies in Christ, he deals with us on that level. He gives us encouragement through his word, using those around us who are older in Christ. He sends nourishing words (the milk of the word) to help us grow through ministers and other mature Christians.
Newborn Christians can grow at different rates of speed, depending on their commitment to God and to church, to Bible study and prayer, and to how much they listen to God and obey his voice.
God’s love for his children is immense, and all he does is out of his love for his creation. He wants us to listen and do his bidding because he knows exactly what we need, just as our parents do when we are children. (See Revelation 3:20)4
Common areas in which God deals with us
God deals with us in our relationships. We are told repeatedly in the scriptures to love one another. Yet we talk about one another in negative ways, criticize each other, badmouth each other, and gripe about each other. 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter of the Bible, has a lot to say about love, including the fact that love is patient and kind, not jealous or boastful, not arrogant or rude, and does not insist on having its own way. Yet so often we fail to listen to this and we as well as others have to suffer the consequences of our failure to hear. Offences mount, and our reputation as Christians suffer.
God has talked to me about being more respectful and considerate of others. Sometimes it’s about spending more time with those we love. Or having better communication with them, talking and listening, and being more involved with them.
God talks to us about our relationship with him. He whispers in our hearts, speaks to us through ministers, through songs, through the reading of his word, and through Christian articles and literature.
He tells us to read his word and to communicate with him in prayer. Quite often this is just talking to him as we go about our day. He tells us to talk about him to others. He wants us to spend time with him, as we do with anyone with whom we desire to have a relationship. He reminds us to be faithful in church attendance. He wants us to worship him—to be involved with him. Sometimes we are involved, but outside of him. We do ‘God’ things without his opinion about it, outside of his will. We fail to talk to him about our actives, justifying ourselves because, after all, we are working for God.
We are made up of body, soul, and spirit, and each part is important. God talks to us about taking care of our bodies, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are to eat right and exercise so that our bodies are healthy.
We are also to take care of our soul—the mind, the will, and the emotions. We are to have renewed minds, renewed by a daily intake of God’s word. We must take care of what we read, what we listen to, and what we watch. It has been said that we are what we eat, and this principle can also be applied to what we read, listen to, and watch. Those things enter our minds and affect us in our perspective and our thinking, therefore in our actions. God gave us our emotions, but we are not to be controlled by them. We are to be controlled by the spirit where God dwells so that our soul can mature and our actions and attitudes become more and more God-like.
We must also be concerned about our finances. We need to maintain healthy spending habits so that we are able to help those in need. As we grow up and listen to God, we learn that our blessings are in direct proportion to our giving. Sometimes is doesn’t seem that way when we look around at others, but in the end, we are successful when we listen to and obey God.
God is concerned about us. He knows what we need to do to be healthy, maturing Christians. He wants the best for us. He wants that relationship with us that comes from communication: talking and listening to him. Just as we need communication with humans, we need communication with God. Listening is just as important as talking, so we need to be good listeners. When we listen to God, we can be assured that our lives will be exactly in line with what God wants for us, leading us right down the path, staying on the footsteps he has ordered for us according to his plan for our lives.
We MUST listen to God!