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“Let those who have ears, hear.”

Do you have the “Gift of Ears?” Many of us are familiar with the “gift of tongues,” but I wonder how many of us have given consideration to the “gift of ears?” According to Jesus, the gift of ears is an indispensable element of our faith.
Over and over, throughout the Gospels, Jesus says, “Let those who have ears, hear.” The gift of ears implores us to listen to the desperate cries of our brothers and sisters in loving and sensitive ways. But that’s not all. Once we hear those cries, we are to respond to their needs in the spirit of Christ-like love.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is asked which of all the more than 600 commandments in Jewish law is the greatest. In response, Jesus quotes from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is Lord alone. Therefore, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” But Jesus doesn’t stop there, He goes on to say, “That’s the first great commandment. Here’s the second, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Remember, there are no other commandments greater than these.”
The “gift of ears” means that we are always listening from the perspective of our love for God, and our love for our neighbors. But, of course, listening is just the first part of the equation. After we listen, we pray, and then we act. It was Mark Twain who echoed the sentiments of most of us when he said, “I’d rather see a sermon any day than hear one.” So, let your actions become your sermon. Get into the habit of doing something good for somebody every day. Don’t make the mistake of living only for yourself. Don’t be so focused on your own needs that you don’t have time to make a difference in the life of a neighbor in need. Selfishness is one of the worst prisons you can put yourself in. God didn’t create you to focus only on yourself. God has blessed you with many gifts and He wants you to be a giver. Remember a blessing is not a blessing unless it’s shared. If you want to share God’s love with your neighbor, don’t preach them a sermon, just be good to them. Treat them with respect and honor, with dignity and kindness. Demonstrate your love for them through your actions. And, by the way, remember to be a blessing even to those neighbors that you’re not particularly fond of, those neighbors who can be a real pain. Always take the high road. Don’t miss an opportunity to do something good for someone.
There’s a story from the second World War about an American warship out in the Pacific that was transporting some wounded Japanese prisoners. The medical officer in charge took such good care of the prisoners, that one of his fellow officers protested: “Why are you so good to the enemy. Why don’t you just let them die the way they let our men die?” The medical officer replied, “I don’t play by their rules. I am a Christian. The Japanese warlords tell their soldiers that all Americans are beasts. One day, these prisoners will return home knowing that they’ve been lied to. They will be able to say they were treated with compassion by Americans who cared for them as fellow human beings. I’m going to do my best to replace the hatred in their hearts with the love of Christ. That’s the only way we are ever going to have peace in this world.”
Let those who have ears, hear, “Love the Lord, your God, with all of your heart and soul and mind and strength… and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Remember, every time you show love, you are showing God to the world. Even the smallest acts of love and kindness can make a big difference. So, take time to listen, then pray, then reach out to your neighbor in the spirit of Christ’s Love.

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