The date of my meet-up with an old friend was quickly approaching. We reconnected on social media after not seeing each other in years. I was concerned, however, about whether or not I had made the right decision to meet with her. We both had changed a lot.
I wondered if we would still have anything in common and if we would even have things to talk about. Would she judge me for becoming a Christian? My perspective on life seemed drastically different than hers.
But I knew that simply listening to her had the power to bridge any misunderstanding or difference between us. Listening to her would show her that her opinions mattered, that she was heard, and most importantly, that she was loved by Jesus. After all, I wanted to bring Jesus’ love to this space—and that’s possible by simply listening.
Despite our differing viewpoints, we can still listen when we understand —no matter what we think or feel—the importance of our friends and family receiving Jesus’ love.
Listening in Love: How Choosing To Listen Can Help Christians Share The Gospel Effectively
God’s word gives us instructions on how we can listen to show the love of Jesus and why it’s so essential that we do this. This will distinguish us as Christians and it will allow people to see what Christ is like.
Jesus loves everyone, no matter what. Everyone desires love and wants to receive love. The love that everyone is desiring is not the love of people but the love of Jesus, because it’s unconditional. Thus, when we are in conversations, we should strive to demonstrate this love. It’s possible through listening.
Paul gives us clear instructions on how to do this. He was a follower of Christ who often had the opportunity to speak with others with different viewpoints and opinions of Christ.
He communicated with both non-believers and believers. At first, he didn’t believe in Christ, but then became a fervent follower—so he understood opposing opinions.
In Colossians 4:3-5 (ESV) he says:
“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”Colossians 4:3-5 (ESV
These words from Paul come from a time when he was in prison for sharing the gospel. His circumstances were undesirable, but he still sought to have conversations to further the kingdom.
He reminds us first to pray, and then reminds us of the power of prayer to move the hearts of others. We must be people who pray for our interactions with others.
The opportunity to speak with non-believers about Christ is from God. How you speak and listen can soften peoples’ hearts for Christ and allow them to feel loved.
How To Show Christ’s Love When Speaking With Non-Believers
Show his love through your words, body language, and entire demeanor as you listen. Be intentional in the moment to really give them your full attention by listening. It may even be their first time meeting a Christian. Be wise, knowing that these moments count and are important kingdom work.
Paul teaches us that in our conversations we do not want to discourage others but lift them up. We want others to feel encouraged and heard. Listening helps us do this.
Our words should feel life-giving to them, even when we disagree. We don’t want to provoke anger: we want them to feel that we appreciate them and believe they have value. We want to add something that will make them feel seen, even if we don’t agree. It will build them up. We can do this by being engaged listeners.
Practical Ways To Listen
Below are some things that you can do in conversations to help you listen, and show the love of Jesus to those with whom you have differences.
Pray to see them the way Jesus does.
If we are to listen, we need to see people the way he does. It will break down barriers to listen and love them in this manner. Pray before you enter into conversations with people you know you have differences with. Ask the Holy Spirit to help.
Study biblical figures who were missionaries for Christ, like Paul.
They can give sound advice on how to share the love of Christ and how to be like Christ. Take note of the details in the way they spoke and listened and how their life was indebted to Christ. They were mission minded, and we can be too in our interactions with others.
Become a listener to Christ
If we want to listen to others well, we have to learn to listen to Christ. During the day, make time to listen to Jesus. Start slowly for a few minutes and increase. It’s life-giving for your personal growth in your relationship with Jesus and will help you listen better to others.
Our conversations with others are so important for showing the love of Christ. Listening is key. Regardless of our differences, it is possible to show the love of Christ when we walk with him.
Nikki Evanson is a wife, mother, and—first and foremost—a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. She has created a ministry for Christian women like you who follow Jesus; to help and equip you to live for him.