How To Be Heard

If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them. It’s that simple.

Scripture: Acts 15:5


Alright, thank you very much. What a joy it is to be with you day by day and open the Word of God to you and share with you some of these things that the Lord says to my own heart. Oh, I enjoy and I hope you do, too. Well, it says in Acts 15:5 that there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, it was needful to circumcise them and command them to keep the Law of Moses. Let’s stop here a minute. A mistaken idea can come from dedicated people, notice who in the world this was. Now the Pharisees were the strictest sect of Judaism. They had hundreds of regulations that they had to keep every day, hundreds of regulations that they had to keep every day. And so, they were very strict and very conscientious. I mean, they meant it, they were conscientious about it. Not only that, but it said, there were certain of these strict people who believed, that is to say they had trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as savior, so that they were not only conscientious and devoted and strict and adhering to all of their religious regulations, but they had also trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as savior. Now that you would think is a wonderful combination. Isn’t it?

But notice, they were mistaken, weren’t they? Because they said, “You have to fulfill all the regulations of the Mosaic Law. And the Mosaic Law provides that every male has to be circumcised, and unless you do that, you really aren’t a Christian.” Now, here’s the same thing coming up. They had the problem arising in Antioch, Paul and Barnabas came to Jerusalem to find out about it. And here are these people still banging away on this idea. I’ll tell you why. Human nature instinctively looks for something upon which to lean to dignify itself. Human nature instinctively looks for something upon which to lean to dignify itself. It is the hardest thing in the world to bow completely before God without anything on which to lean, for which to dignify myself. Now, you look at human religions, and you’ll see this all through. The religious life of the various nations of our world. People do things in order to feel as though they merit some consideration by whatever deity it is that they are worshipping. Irwin Rates and his wife were with me one day in old China, mainland China, before the fall of China in 1948, and this was in the City of Canton, and they were showing me around the city. I had just arrived and like any gaping tourist I was all eyes.

We went into what was called the Temple of 500 Gods, 500 gilded squat Buddhas there lining the walls of this vast temple. Every one of them identical, except one, which had a hat on, and they explained to me that this Buddha had a hat on because it was patterned after Marco Polo, the explorer who is said to have gone through China. So there we were in this famous temple, in the center of the enclosure, there was a great iron altar where the fire, I was told, burns ceaselessly. And people came and went and made their offerings of money and of incense sticks. My attention was caught by a woman who came in, and she had a tiny baby strapped across her back, the baby was sleeping, his head lolling in relaxed fashion while the mother walked along. She walked up to the priest and put down some Chinese paper money, a trifling sum to us, but probably all that she had, so far as she was concerned. And for that money she bought some joss sticks, incense sticks, and she had in her other hand a bunch of Chinese vegetables, something that looks like celery, a coarse form of celery and some onions and whatnot.

And so, she brought those Chinese vegetables and the incense sticks over to a certain one of these idols and she bowed down before the idol, and she bowed so vigorously that her forehead bumped against the stone floor, and I noticed the ridges of bruised skin on her forehead as she arose from bowing before the idol. She placed the incense beside the idol in a little holder that was made for it. She left the vegetables there, and she went on her way. I said to Irwin Rates, “Irwin, what was she saying?” “Oh,” he said, “She was saying that she’s doing this in order that the God might be propitiated toward her and that her luck might change. She has a very sick child at home and she’s afraid the child will die.” And so, she’s bringing these vegetables and doing this in order to gain some favor with the God to whom she prayed. Well, you know, I’ve seen that in different forms all over the world, people doing things. And of course, you come to America and although we do not have what is called idolatry here in terms of bowing down to an image, yet people are idolatrous in terms of serving money and pleasure and fame and fortune and self.

And here in America, we do things in order to seem validly religious, isn’t it true? In 18 years in the pastorate, I would make many calls about 1000 calls a year, three times a day, go tell somebody about Jesus. And like us not when I would come and talk with someone, I’d say, “Well, how are you getting along spiritually?” The answer would come back quickly, “Oh, I’m not so bad. I’m not as bad as that hypocrite up the street or that hussy down the street or that corrupt politician across the town. I’m not so bad.” And see, we compare ourselves with others vainly hoping that we’ll find something to give us status. I attended a class on one occasion, on several occasions, actually, for it was a course of lessons in what was called Human Engineering. And I recall on a number of such occasions, the man who taught the class repeated and repeated and repeated this concept, “Every person must have a feeling of status, and if you don’t give it to him, he will find a way of getting it.” And so he said, “If you want to manage people, you must approach every person quite sincerely as though he had a sign hanging around his neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.'”

“For there is something,” said this man, this instructor, “There is something about every human being you will ever meet that is important. Find it, and let him know.” Pretty good advice. Or you can’t in a mealy-mouthed hypocritical fashion hope to fool people by flattering them. This never works, as you know. But oh, you can find something about any human being that is truly important. Find it, and let him know that you think he’s important. But now, that’s all aside, human nature finds it very difficult to be bankrupt before a holy God. And so, we look for something, something to dignify us, something to prop us up spiritually, so to speak. Now, that is the background on what these good, but mistaken people said. They were strict, they were religiously devoted, they were dedicated, they were conscientious and they had also trusted Christ as savior, everything to the good, but they made the mistake of thinking that if you do something aside from the grace of God, it will help you to be saved. Now, as I said the other day, when we were together on this broadcast, “Salvation is by grace through faith, not of works. Lest any man should boast.”

What you do in terms of good works, you do after you are saved. You do because you have been saved, not in order to become saved. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them, to do good. Paul says in a different place and to communicate that is to help people forget not. He says, “Don’t forget good works. And don’t forget to be good to people. This is God’s will, but it’s God’s will since you are saved, not in order to be saved.” There’s difference, isn’t it? So these people were mistaken, they said, “Except you be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses, you can’t be saved.” Now, let’s go back to the text. We’re looking at the 15th chapter of the Book of Acts. Finally, after there’d been a lot of arguing, Peter rose up. I want just to stop here with a small thought, give people a chance to say their say. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in earlier years was to cut people off and not let them say what they wanted to. I think I have enemies to this day in different parts of the world, because I was too quick to cut off discussion. When I was President of Youth for Christ, for instance, we would have a business meeting or a council meeting, they called them in those days, the various delegates from the different areas of the world, you know? And I was President for nine years, so I had to run these meetings.

Well, somebody would get up and he would ramble and he would go on and he would talk, and in the middle of his speech, sometimes, I’d say, “Brother, this is the point, isn’t it?” And I would try to sum things up, and in effect, his speech would have been made for him and cut off. Well, it shortened the meetings, but I want to tell you, I hurt a lot of feelings that way. I’m sure I did. Now, those of you who run business meetings, try to run a good business meeting, try to keep it in line. One way to run a good committee meeting or business meeting is frequently to sum up. And say, “Well, now let’s see how far we’ve gotten.” Brother X said this and Brother Y said this, and brother Z says this, and this is how far we’ve gotten, and this is what we all agree on. And every now and again if you want to run a good meeting, just back off and sum things up up to that point and then go on. Always remember also that a meeting needs a purpose, have something you want to accomplish in the meeting that will make it more certain that you’ll get something done. But after having said that, it is very important to let a person say what’s on his mind. Don’t shut people off. I try not to do that.

Sometimes I forget, I must admit. You know, I have to re-learn this lesson, because I’m kind of an impatient fellow, I guess. And so, I have to learn not to interrupt, and I have to learn not to cut people off in a meeting. It’s important for me to say how I feel. This is part of human nature, isn’t it? Yes, it is. Now, if you’re dealing with the kids at home, remember that the same principle holds true. Let the kids tell you how they feel. That doesn’t mean you have to do what they say, but let them tell you. Listen to them, you see, listen to them, how they feel. And husbands and wives, if your wife wants to tell you something, listen to her, don’t just grunt and hide behind the sporting page of the paper, see. And the same thing for you lady, if your husband wants to tell you something, don’t just say, “Oh, I’ve got a headache,” and turn away, listen to him. Let people say their say. You know why? Because it’s like putting money in the bank. If you wanna draw any out, you have to put it in first. If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them. It’s that simple.

So as I said, after there had been much arguing or disputing, Peter rose up and said, “Men and brethren, it’s this simple. Let’s learn to give people a chance to say what’s on their heart.” Good idea? A very good idea. Now, let’s pray.

Dear Father, be with each of these dear ones who’s been listening today. May thy presence be real, may thy power be manifest, may thy Spirit fill our lives and may thy will be done through us. I ask in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Amen. God bless you, dear friend, all the way.

That’s all for now, till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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