Love pays attention.
Unfortunately, I often get distracted when people are talking to me (including my wife, Nicole), which usually evokes the comment, “You’re not listening to me!” Love means being 'fully present' with a person, paying focused attention to them by looking them in the eye and concentrating not just on their words but also on the meaning and feelings behind the words.
Studies in psychology tell us that the thing people value as much as direction or insight when they go to someone for counselling is to be in the presence of another human being who will actually look at them, listen to them, pay attention to them and treat their lives and hearts as though they mattered!
The Bible tells us that God pays attention to us. The great priestly blessing that God himself taught the people of Israel says this:
Numbers 6:24-26. “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” NIV
To turn your face toward someone is to give them your wholehearted, undivided attention. It is not the casual listening of a preoccupied mind. It is saying, “I have nothing else to do, nowhere I’d rather be. I’m fully devoted to being with you.” This is the kind of attention God gives to us.
Not only does God turn his face toward us, he will make it shine upon us. The shining face is a picture of delight, like proud parents beaming at their newborn baby, or the radiant face of a groom as he watches his bride walk the aisle. As a communicator – there’s nothing more encouraging than people who pay attention and whose faces are shining. And the opposite is true – people who are critiquing, are in a bad mood, or studying the patterns on my shirt!
God pays attention to us, really close attention. Jesus said, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered (Luke 12:7).” That’s an easier task for some of us than others! Often we don’t even notice when someone changes their hairstyle, yet God notices when one hair falls out. He may not replace it, but at least he notices it. Jesus is not teaching about God’s incredible capacity to crunch the numbers but that God is amazingly attentive to even the smallest details of our lives.
To become more loving means to become more like God. It means to see as he sees, to listen as he listens and to attend as he attends to the people in your relational world.
- Love remembers - birthdays, events and even seemingly insignificant details.
- Love notices – differences, moods, joys, fears, and changes.
- Love listens – turn your face, look people in the eye, be fully present, listen to the words and to their heart.
When we slow down enough to listen to people we become more able to listen to God. We learn not only to slow down but also to focus and to listen. This helps us deal with our spiritual attention deficit disorder.
Jesus often said, “Let anyone with ears listen!”(Matthew 11:15; 13:9, 43). Love pays attention and then responds.
See a need today and then do your best to meet it or at least be a part of the solution. Simply listening and taking interest in others has a powerfully positive impact on them.
Think about it: love pays attention.