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You wake up and hear your spouse’s voice. Then your pets. Probably your kids. As you head out the door, you hear people in the neighborhood. People on the radio talk and sing. Your co-workers and boss speak, play music, and send you signals of the verbal and nonverbal variety. Friends text you. You read announcements, billboards, and emails. The phone rings.
By the end of the day, you’ve heard the voices of a hundred or so people, programs, papers, and media outlets. That’s a lot to sift through.
Even if you try to listen to Christian music, watch decent television, and keep solid company close by, you’re bound to absorb information that distracts from the one thing you need to hear: the voice of truth.
John 10:4-5 tells us that “he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
That’s a lot of running away, isn’t it?
So much of what we hear does not possess the voice of the Lord. Unfortunately, to sort out the good from the bad, we rarely listen to the voice speaking in order to make a decision. Rather, we decide based on the content.
Often the words and messages that bombard us are full of worldly content and urge us, ultimately, to focus more on ourselves. We take to heart messages with content that is practical or that gets our emotions surging. Words that comment on the things dear to us are used to steer us.
But that’s not what Scripture says.
To discern the voice of truth, we must listen to know who is speaking.
Consider how firmly and clearly Jesus rebuked Peter when he spoke, not of the Spirit, but as one approaching from the concerns of the world (Matthew 16:23.) His words were “get behind me, Satan!” In another example, we see how Bartimaeus chose not to listen to the crowds telling him to hush because he knew that the voice he needed to hear was Christ’s, regardless of what might be said (Mark 10.)
Here’s what we know about the one who speaks:
- His voice is one of stillness (see Job or Elijah)
- His tone bears the fruit of the Spirit, like gentleness and kindness
- His words are clear because He is not an author of confusion
- All that is wrong trembles at the sound
- He speaks through unifying voices, like loved ones who agree
- His perspective does not change and does not conflict with the Bible
- He calls us by name
- His purpose is life-giving
Listen for that voice –His voice- among all the others. It’s simpler than we tend to let it be. We don’t need to weigh the words to decide which way to go. Like sheep, we should simply listen for the one we know and follow, ever listening to the sweet sound of the one who knows THE WAY.