Feb 222018 0 Responses

The Danger of Unforgiving Ears

We assume unforgiveness resides in the heart. It’s a fair thought. Whether or not we choose to forgive someone is determined by the condition of our heart. One whose heart has been softened by receiving forgiveness finds it far easier to extend forgiveness to others. Whomever’s heart is hardened by bitterness and resentment finds it easier to hang on to grievances than to forgive others.

But forgiveness doesn’t just reside in the heart. It’s most expressed in our ears. To the extent that we forgive others, we hear them. When we don’t forgive, we don’t hear. (See: How to Forgive When You Can’t Forget)

One of the greatest hindrances of being connected to others is our unforgiving ears.

Unforgiveness Disconnects People

When issues are between us, our connection with others is lost. Because of the point of contention, we no longer feel loved, supported, and accepted. We also fail to be gracious, kind, and loving toward others. The issue fractures our relationship.

Whenever we are disconnected from others, we don’t listen to them. We listen to their words in order to gain ammunition in a war against them, but we don’t listen to their heart, experience, or perspective. We aren’t listening to understand, we are hearing to attack.

Herein lies the danger of an unforgiving ear. Until we forgive, we will continue to hear things that justify our unforgiveness. Whenever we stop listening to people, we start hearing only the things we want to hear. Everything someone says simply confirms our bias against them.

Consider a political opponent. Why are they wrong about everything? It’s not because their heart is evil, it’s because everything they say is heard through a buffer of our bias. This is why partisanship more than policy dictates how we view candidates. If two candidates said the same thing, you are more likely to agree with someone from your political party and disagree with someone from the opposing party. It’s the bias that determines what you hear.

This becomes the great danger in marriage. When a marriage turns bad, husband and wife continue to hear each other, but they do not listen to one another. They hear in order to accumulate more weapons to use against the other. Their relationship continues to fracture and they feel justified in their actions because everything their spouse says confirms their bias. (See: Three Reasons You Can’t Forgive)

It often happens at work. A relationship rub takes place between us and a co-worker. Maybe we don’t like their attitude or they take too much credit for a project or they make a bad decision which frustrates us. Rather than understanding the circumstance, forgiving them, and moving forward, we allow the circumstance to influence everything they say and do after that. We no longer hear their ideas, understand their heart, or take time to comprehend their point because our unforgiveness causes us to dismiss everything about them.

Unforgiving ears destroy marriages, turn workplaces toxic, and divide communities by robbing us of our most important skill–the ability to compassionately seek to understand the heart and intention of each other.

The good news is that we can reverse engineer hearing and forgiveness. Because we often stop listening to those we haven’t forgiven, we can use our ears as a test of forgiveness.

Do you truly listen to your spouse, giving them the gift of intention when their words may not be exactly right?

Are your co-workers, all of them, able to speak with you in a way that can influence your opinion?

When your political opponent speaks, do you see their opinion as being different than yours rather than assuming they are evil, stupid, or unpatriotic?

If the answer is no, it shows you are likely holding bitterness and unforgiveness in your heart. Your ear is revealing your sin. It’s a great grace because recognizing your failure allows you to change. If you aren’t listening, you need to start forgiving.

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