Talking about Listening


“You are what you eat!” We have all heard this adage at one time or another. Its early uses suggested a link between proper nutrition and good health.1 And modern nutrition science supports this. Dr. Mercola writes, “Many people today struggle with weight issues, diseases, and other health problems that impair their ability to enjoy life. Many resort to pharmaceutical drugs and other conventional methods to relieve their symptoms, but these are actually just Band-Aid solutions that typically result in more harm than good. What they don’t realize is that they can significantly improve their health by just changing their diet and eating habits.”2

Just as physical nutrition impacts physical health, the quality and quantity of our spiritual nutrition affects our spiritual health.

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Matthew 4:4

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”

1 Peter 2:2

“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s Word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.”

Hebrews 5:12

Bread! Milk! Meat! God’s Word is described repeatedly with nutritional metaphors. The writer of Hebrews continues;

“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

Hebrews 5:14

The solid food of the Word of God is connected to the discernment3 of good and evil.4 If we are what we eat, what does this teach us about what we need to watch and read, and who we need to follow5 and study?

When I bought my first personal computer in the late 1980s, I quickly learned the acronym GIGO – “Garbage In Garbage Out.” A computer produces nonsensical results when it is fed nonsensical information. The output is only useful when the input is neither inaccurate nor incomplete.

While neither of these illustrations – cooking or computing – 
is surprising, when it comes to conversations, we steadfastly hold to a different principal! We listen to all manner of junk food and expect to be ready to speak profundities on demand. If we want our conversation to be filled with “grace, seasoned with salt, that we may know how to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6), we need to feed on God’s Word and learn of God’s Ways – “Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life!” (John 14:6).

We cannot share what we have not apprehended. I submit for your consideration, O gracious reader, that we are engaged in two conversations – the conversation without and the conversation within. The conversation without is with our friends and neighbors and even our adversaries. 
The conversation within relies on hearing the Still Small Voice.6

“So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’”

Exodus 3:4

“He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’”

Acts 9:4

“While I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.’”

Daniel 9:21-22 (As extra credit, find the red-letter words in Acts 1.)

For him who has ears to hear, right? (Revelation 2-3)

Our Heavenly Father is eager for His children to know His voice and hear His words. From an early age, my daughter has been attuned to a sound I make – a clicking of the tongue which is intended to be a sort of a kiss and one loud enough to be heard over a distance. At the store, she might be in the toy department while I can be found surrounded by tools. (Can I get a witness?) A click of the tongue is sufficient for her head to pop up and she would scan the store and spot me and come to me.

What say ye? Do you hear the “click” from God? Can you recognize His voice?

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:27

Satan is the counterfeit voice, and his words and ways pervade much of what we read and watch today. As the story goes, bank tellers are trained to recognize counterfeit money by handling the genuine thing.7 
The Bible exhorts its readers over and over to do just this.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

Philippians 4:8

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

Psalm 1:1-3

When the Bible exhorts the reader to “meditate,” it uses this word in a manner opposite of its familiar usage today. The Bible always encourages meditating on something – whatever is excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians) and certainly on His Law and His Word (Psalms.) Modern (Eastern) meditation wants the practitioner to empty the mind and to think of nothing, often focusing on a chant or a mantra to reach this state of emptiness. The first is the real and rewarding meditation from above; the second is the counterfeit used by the deceiver to rob.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

John 10:10

Over the past several months, the focus of my series of articles about conversations has been on the conversation without, and the conversation with those around you. The upcoming articles will focus on the conversation within, the conversation with the One who indwells each believer.


3 The focus of Koinonia Institute’s Issachar Track

4 See Hebrews 4:12

5 In the social media sense of the word!

6 See 1 Kings 19:12

7 With so many clever anti-counterfeiting efforts, I wonder how much this is true in practice. It is nonetheless historically accurate.