"BUT TO YOU WHO ARE LISTENING I SAY: LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE YOU." — LUKE 6:27
I’d just done one of the things I hated the most. Again. I was in the living room with my kids and had become so engrossed scrolling through images and updates (that I actually cared very little about), that the kids (whom I care very much about) were trying to get my attention without much success. Their “Mom, look at this!” was met with “Mmm-hmmm” but no actual eye contact. It still makes my stomach turn to think about it.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever found yourself paying attention to things that don’t really matter? And, maybe even more importantly, have you ever come to the realization that your focus on the things that didn’t matter was actually distracting you from the things that do matter?
As I put on my tattoo for this month, the first 8 words struck me: “But to you who are listening I say…” This phrase stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking about what it means to listen to Jesus—and if I’m listening. While the main emphasis of this verse is about loving our enemies, today I want to think about some of the questions the opening phrase of this verse sparked for me:
- What or whom am I listening to on a regular basis?
- Am I listening to God’s Word regularly? And how much of a priority is it to me?
- Am I listening to all of what God has said, or just focusing in on the bits that feel a little easier and less counter-cultural?
Who Was Listening to Jesus?
If we go back a few verses in Luke 6, we see that there’s a big crowd gathered from a variety of places listening to Jesus here (Luke 6:17). This crowd was a mix of Jesus’s disciples as well as many who had come with the hope that Jesus would heal them physically or cast out evil spirits—and he did (Luke 6:18-19). And then he begins to explain to them what it really means to be his disciples—what it looks like to live in the kingdom of God—and I’d be willing to bet what he said felt very shocking to them. It’s a blessing to be poor, hungry, sad, and hated? We should not only not retaliate when enemies come after us, but give generously to them and love them? This is hard.
But Jesus never asks his disciples to live out something that he doesn’t also equip them to do. There are a variety of ways that we are equipped by God to live like who we really are, his redeemed sons and daughters: knowing the Word, praying, living in community with other believers, walking in step with the Spirit who indwells us. The reality is, it isn’t just hard but downright impossible to live out Christ’s call in the second half of our verse to love our enemies if we are not first actively listening to him and abiding in him.
Am I Listening?
We all have what can feel like endless options of things to listen to each day. And many of those things are really great things to pay attention to. But let me level with you: I’ve found myself slowly slipping into a pattern of distraction, of looking at the calendar and my to-do list, scrolling news headlines, or listening to a podcast first thing in the morning instead of first listening to the most important words: what my God has said. As much as I hate to admit that, I know that recognizing the way I’ve prioritized listening to lesser things is a mercy from a kind Father who knows that what I need for joy and endurance and faith is him. Not just things about him, not just a well-ordered schedule, not just a well-informed mind. In short, I really needed to think about the opening words of our verse this month.
As with all things, there’s nuance required here. Do we reject anything and everything else to just read the Bible and pray all day? No. But this is a gut check I needed, and maybe you need it today too: Who are you listening to most often? What’s filling your mind?
God Is Speaking
“But to you who are listening, I say…” Many of us have more than one copy of the Bible in our homes (not to mention the myriad of options to read or listen to Scripture on our phones). Our familiarity with and easy access to the Bible can sometimes lead us to become unexcited about the fact that the God of the universe has spoken—and he’s spoken to us. He has given us his Word to help us know who he is and teach us how to live. There is an invitation waiting from God himself to know him more in the pages of his Word.
This is why Dwell Differently exists. Our mission is to point you to Christ by helping you memorize Scripture, understand what it means, and meditate on it throughout your day. Reading and studying and memorizing the Bible isn’t just a task to check off our to-do list—it’s the God-ordained way that he most clearly shows us who he is, offers us a new identity in Jesus, and equips us to live an abundant life.
An Invitation to Focus on What Matters Most
So what distractions are you facing when it comes to listening to God? What’s one practical thing you can do today to help you listen to what he has said in his Word? He is ready to help you follow after him, to love your enemies just as he loved us when we were his enemies. He is still speaking to you through his Word, equipping you to live in joy. Will you listen?