A photo capturing a person with an open Bible, attentively listening to another person, symbolizing the importance of biblical guidance and actively listening to others.

What Does The Bible Say About Listening To Others?

The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of listening. Listening well is vital for healthy relationships, spiritual growth, and showing love to others. In this comprehensive article, we will explore key Bible verses about listening and examine what Scripture teaches about being quick to listen and slow to speak.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: the Bible encourages active, engaged listening as an act of love, wisdom, and humility. Verses like James 1:19, Proverbs 18:13, and Ecclesiastes 5:2 stress the value of listening over speaking and warn against being quick to offer your own opinions.

Listening as an Act of Love

Loving Others Requires Listening to Them

Truly listening to others is one of the most caring things we can do. When we listen attentively, we communicate value, respect, and genuine interest in that person. We all want to feel heard and understood. Listening meets this deep human need for connection.

As the Bible says, “Love is patient, love is kind…It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. 13:4-5 NIV). Patience and kindness are demonstrated through active listening without judgment or ego.

Listening can soften even the hardest of hearts. Rather than reacting in anger when someone frustrates us, listening can promote empathy and dissolve misunderstandings. We tend to make assumptions about others’ motivations without fully hearing their perspective.

But listening helps us walk in their shoes, leading to forgiveness rather than resentment. Listening brings people together rather than dividing them. As research shows, couples who listen attentively to each other report much higher relationship satisfaction.(1) Truly listening, rather than just waiting to talk, strengthens bonds between people.

Listening Shows Value and Respect

When we actively listen to others without interruption, it signals that we respect them and their ideas. Maintaining eye contact, nodding periodically, and avoiding distractions all demonstrate care for the speaker.

Research shows that in conversations where one person listens without interrupting, the speaker feels more validated in expressing their thoughts and emotions.(2) We can apply this by being present with loved ones, refraining from giving unsolicited advice, and asking thoughtful questions instead.

Listening with empathy and seeking to understand require humility. We acknowledge we don’t have all the answers. We value others’ perspectives, even when differing from our own. Listening expands our frames of reference, providing opportunities for growth.

Proverbs 18:13 reminds us that “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame” (NIV). Listening first prevents mistaken assumptions. Overall, listening demonstrates Christlike love that sees value and dignity in every person as made in God’s image. Listening communicates, “You matter.”

The Wisdom of Listening

Listening Leads to Greater Understanding

Listening intently to others is a virtue extolled throughout the Bible. “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19). Listening demonstrates respect, care, and humility. Rather than focusing on our own words, listening shows value for others’ perspectives.

As Proverbs 18:13 (ESV) wisely states, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

Listening opens our minds to see situations more fully. “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Proverbs 20:5). By listening, we gain insight into people’s motives and struggles.

Listening restrains hasty judgments, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). Instead of reacting, we seek understanding.

Consider these benefits of careful listening:

  • We avoid foolish assumptions and hasty responses.
  • We build trust and rapport by demonstrating care.
  • We gain valuable wisdom and perspective.
  • We have deeper empathy and compassion for others.

As James 1:19 summarizes, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Listening is the wise first step for mutual understanding.

Speaking without Listening Leads to Folly and Strife

In contrast, speaking too quickly often leads to folly and strife. Proverbs 18:2 observes, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” A fool is more interested in declaring their own views than hearing others. This leads to disputes and disconnection.

As Proverbs 18:6-7 warns, “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”

People who speak without listening are likened to the “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Their words may be loud but lack meaning and wisdom. As Ecclesiastes 5:3 cautions, “For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.”

Endless opinions without listening first are vain babbling.

Here are pitfalls of quick speech without careful listening:

  • We miss crucial information and perspective.
  • We damage relationships through misunderstandings.
  • We react rashly instead of responding wisely.
  • We fail to show care, gain trust, and understand others.

Proverbs 10:19 summarizes it well: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Restraint through listening shows true wisdom and understanding.

Cultivating a Listening Spirit

Be Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak

The Bible encourages us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). This means approaching conversations with an open and teachable spirit, being willing to hear others before forming a response.

Listening well requires humility and patience as we seek to understand the other person’s perspective.

Jesus demonstrated this principle through his interactions with people. He asked questions, listened intently, and responded with care and wisdom (Luke 10:25-37). As followers of Christ, we can imitate his pattern by genuinely listening rather than rushing to speak our mind.

Here are some practical tips for cultivating a listening spirit:

  • Focus completely on the speaker without distractions or mentally formulating your response.
  • Ask clarifying questions to fully understand their viewpoint.
  • Paraphrase what you heard to ensure accurate understanding.
  • Avoid interrupting or steering the conversation your way.

The reward of listening well is deeper relationships built on understanding. We demonstrate love for others when we truly seek to hear their heart.

The Discipline of Active Listening

Active listening requires effort and intention but pays huge dividends in communication. It involves giving your full attention to the speaker, suspending judgement, and reflecting back both content and feelings.

Here are some tips for active listening:

  • Maintain comfortable eye contact to show engagement.
  • Focus completely on what the person is saying without being distracted.
  • Nod and use affirming words like “Yes” and “Uh huh” to demonstrate understanding.
  • Don’t interrupt or finish the person’s sentences.
  • Paraphrase important points to check for accuracy.
  • Ask open-ended questions for clarification like “What do you mean by that?”
  • Reflect the person’s feelings by saying things like “You seem frustrated by this.”

Beyond just hearing the words spoken, active listening seeks to grasp the meaning behind them. It builds trust and enables us to connect more deeply with others.

Passive Listening Active Listening
Focusing on response rather than speaker Giving speaker full attention and focus
Appearing distracted or disinterested Maintaining eye contact and affirming with body language
Interrupting speaker Allowing speaker to finish without interruption
Judging or criticizing Withholding judgement and criticism
Quick to respond Seeking clarification before responding
Hearing without understanding meaning Reflecting content and feelings back to speaker

While passive listening skims the surface, active listening dives below it. It takes concentration, but the understanding and connection it builds make it well worth the effort.

Listening Demonstrates Humility

Putting Aside Pride to Hear Others

Listening to others with an open mind requires humility. We must put aside our pride, preconceived notions, and desire to be right. Truly listening shows we value the speaker. When we listen well, we communicate, “I want to understand you.” This builds trust in relationships.

Listening demonstrates respect for the speaker’s thoughts and experiences. Though we may disagree, we can still listen in order to learn. This takes humility – acknowledging we don’t have all the answers. Listening expands our perspectives. We gain insight into how others think and feel.

This can deepen our care for people.

The Bible encourages humility and care for others. Philippians 2:3 says, “In humility value others above yourselves.” James 1:19 advises, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.” Listening well applies these biblical principles. It places others first and restrains our own words.

Humble listening benefits relationships and reflects Christ’s love.

Making Space for Different Perspectives

Being open-minded is crucial for listening. We can’t truly hear people if we have already decided they’re wrong. Good listening creates space for diverse views. Though uncomfortable at times, this broadens our understanding. We sharpen our thinking by engaging different angles.

Jesus demonstrated openness in how He listened. Though the religious elite tried trapping Jesus in His words, He listened and responded with wisdom (Luke 20:20-26). Jesus sought to understand before replying. He listened past surface assumptions to discern hearts.

His attentiveness enabled meaningful connections.

Similarly, we can grow by listening to perspectives we disagree with or don’t understand. This takes humility – not insisting we are right. Listening with care builds bridges. We connect better when people feel heard. An open, non-judgmental ear allows truth to be spoken and received.

Listening demonstrates love.

Listening as an Act of Obedience

The Bible teaches us that listening to others is an act of obedience and service to God. Here are some key points on why we should listen to others from a biblical perspective:

Listening demonstrates love for others

The second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). An important way we can love others is by truly listening to them. When we listen well, we are honoring them as fellow image-bearers of God and validating their thoughts and feelings.

This builds trust and intimacy in relationships.

Listening is humble and not self-seeking

The Bible instructs us “in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Listening requires humility to quiet our own voice and truly hear someone else’s perspective.

It takes selflessness to care about another person’s viewpoint, not just asserting our own opinions.

Listening demonstrates obedience to authorities

We are called to listen to and obey various authorities that God has placed over us, whether government leaders (Romans 13:1), church elders (Hebrews 13:17), parents (Ephesians 6:1), or employers (Colossians 3:22). Honoring their authority includes listening to their instructions and feedback.

This is ultimately listening in obedience to God.

Listening is wise and discerns God’s truth

“He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame” (Proverbs 18:13). Listening cautiously and reflecting before speaking is the wise course of action. We can gain more understanding of a situation by listening.

And through listening, we may discern godly wisdom and truth being shared by fellow believers who have the Spirit’s guidance (Proverbs 1:5).


As we have seen, the Bible has profound wisdom to offer on the value of listening. From relationships to gaining knowledge to growing in godliness, attentive listening is presented as a virtue and discipline to cultivate. May we all strive to listen better – to God, to others, and even to ourselves.

The blessings received from truly hearing and understanding are well worth the effort.

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