Listening. It is a lost art some would say. We are so busy trying to stay "connected" by blurting out one liners and status updates that we often miss the reality of what is happening in the world around us. We accept most things on the internet as truth without listening to the story behind the story or the narrative that is being presented for what it really is. Even when it comes to relationships one of the number one reasons people begin to fall out between each other is when one or both people stop listening. For women especially, listening is something that is valued. They want to be heard. They need to be understood. But just because they typically value it more doesn't mean that men don't need it too. We all want to be heard and we want to be listened to. I posted a video on our facebook page about a week ago that illustrates this in a very humorous way. I have posted here again.
But this raises an interesting question. For as much as we want to be listened to, we also have to examine who it is that we ourselves are choosing to listen too. Listening is a two way street. In today's reading we read about a king who by all rights started his political career fabulously and in good standing with God but by the end of his career began listening to the wrong people.
Joash becomes Israel's first child king at the age of 7. As a result he is surrounded by advisors and attendants that give him wise council that he listens to and uses to bring about great things for Judah. His main advisor was Jehodia, the chief priest. With his advice and leading, Joash begins to rebuild the temple he leads the people back toward the Lord early in his career (even if it isn't complete)
At the end of his career and life though, after the death of Jehodia, we see a different Joash. We see a man who listens to the wrong people and doesn't listen to the right ones. 2 Chronicles 24:17-19:
17 After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. 18 They abandoned the temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem. 19 Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.
Joash responded to the flattery of mankind and listened as they proposed abandoning the temple of the Lord. The temple that the levites drug their feet to rebuild but had been in the process of doing because of the request of Joash. But since Jehoida was no longer around he decided to listen to these advisors and not the prophets of the Lord. In fact one of those prophets was the son of Jehoida and because Joash did not like what he was saying he had him killed for it. The Bible says that Joash did not remember the kindness of Jehoida and killed his son.
The truth of all of this that popped of the page for me today was not anything earth shatteringly new but it was a great illustration of a lesson that most of us have probably heard before. That lesson is this:
Who you listen to matters.
The people that we allow to be our influencers matter. Often it will not only mater for us as individuals but there will be a ripple effect and our decisions on who to listen to wil effect our kids, spouse, family, maybe our neighbors or even our city or country. Who we listen to matters. Are we choosing to listen to the author of all truth or do find that we are content to listen only when it suits our agenda? Do we listen to the infinite God who created all life and everything we know and see, or do we listen to finite man and the systems he has established, claiming they are truth?
Take some time this week and evaluate who it is that you have allowed to be your advisors. Are they people who will encourage you and point you toward God and the truth of his Word or do you find that you more often gravitate towards people who will cause you to turn away from the truth of God's Word and toward the world and its systems?