By Doug Bing, Washington Conference president


Have you noticed that there is a difference between listening to hear and listening to respond? Most of us are really good at listening to respond. We start formulating our response while the other person is talking and many times we don’t really hear what is being said. More importantly, we don’t really hear the other person’s heart and the feelings that they may be trying to express. Yet if we stop to listen to really hear someone, our relationships with family, friends and coworkers will be enriched greatly.


In Mark 10, there is a great story that illustrates the difference between listening to hear and listening to respond. It starts in verse 46, where a blind man named Bartimaeus is pictured sitting beside the road begging for food and funds to help him in life. He hears that Jesus is passing by and starts to yell loudly, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”


The people that were listening to respond told him to be quiet. They didn’t want him bothering all the others that were more important. They didn’t want him to be an embarrassment to a famous visitor. They wanted their way in the conversation and were not listening to the needs of Bartimaeus.


He was not to be deterred however and started yelling even louder. Jesus however was listening to hear. He heard a man that was in need. He heard a man that was open to what Jesus could give. He heard a man that had a deep longing to better his life. He heard a man that needed healing. 


Mark 10:49 is such a great picture of Jesus when it says, “Jesus stopped and said Call him.” Jesus listens to hear instead of rushing to respond. Then He stopped what he was doing and stopped where He was going and said call him. Jesus wanted to hear and have a conversation with a man that the crowds had listened to the shouts and had responded with a rebuke. Jesus instead listened to hear the man’s heart and at the end of the day Bartimaeus’ sight is restored, his life is improved and his name is in the Bible and all the rest of the people who told him to be quiet are not mentioned at all by name.


Three concepts come to mind for us as we live this Christian life:

  • First, let us be willing to really listen to each other to hear them and not just listen and be preparing our response while we are listening.
  • Second, let us not rush to try and quiet someone who we think may embarrass us or the crowd that we are with.
  • Third, let us be encouraged that Jesus is always listening to hear us and take courage that He stops to listen to our heart. He listens to our desires. He ponders our pain and our plight. When He does respond, there is healing and new vision that is given.

May we all listen to hear and not just listen to respond. Most of all, may we never be deterred in calling out to God who stops to listen and hear our needs.