Trying To Understand Others — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Trying To Understand Others — Morning Devotions

Trying to understand others can be an invaluable step for resolutions and peace. Often conflict comes simply from misunderstanding.

By Chris WittsThursday 27 Jul 2023Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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How often has there been a problem between two people because of a lack of understanding? Now in my lifetime, and I guess in yours, you’ve seen it happen time and time again. It’s really an old age problem, isn’t it? There’s me not understanding you or you not understanding me and all the consequences of that and what we call it is a breakdown in communication.

So I want to talk about this business of understanding people. Understanding is actually one key for us to live. If we want to live in harmony and peace with each other, we’ve got to try and understand one another.

The lack of understanding, of course, has great consequences. War happens because nations don’t understand each other. There’s racial discrimination, broken marriages and crimes. All these things happen because people are misunderstood, or people misunderstand other people. It was John Maxwell who wrote the book called Relationships 101. He said that lack of understanding concerning others is a recurrent source of tension in our society.

Well, we can be very quick to jump to conclusions about other people, especially people that might be a bit different from the way we are, but there’s so much we can learn from other people. If only we’d stop and take the time to really get to know and understand them.

When we stop and walk alongside someone, we can actually gain a whole new understanding of them. And we see yes, well, I was wrong about that person. They are special. They’ve got particular gifts and talents I didn’t know.

I like what St. Francis of Assisi wrote many years ago. “Let us strive”, he said, “to understand others rather than to be understood.”

Now that’s a great statement because we have to learn how to get on with people, how to understand them, even when that’s, a little bit difficult or challenging. I think one of the problems we have is that we don’t listen to one another carefully anymore, and this is a lost art. Jimmy Buffett covers a song that was originally released by Fred Neil in the 1960s called “Everybody’s Talking”, and the first line I think of the song is a very good description of today’s world –

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“Everybody’s talking at me, can’t hear a word they’re saying, only echoes of my mind.”

Now do you agree with those words? How often do you walk away from a conversation or you’ve been in a meeting somewhere or you’ve been on the phone and you kind of scratch your head and say, “Why don’t they listen to me?” Or how often do people walk away from you, wondering if you actually listen to a word? They said it does work both ways. So maybe as we go through life, we need to slow down and listen to people’s life stories before we go jump into conclusions about them. We need to understand people, particularly before we make judgments about them. So hear what they’re actually saying.

The work of understanding people

Now listening, of course, this does not come naturally to most of us. We need to really work hard at this business of listening. Why? Because our inclination is to jump into the conversation and give our own opinion, Stephen Covey said. “When we are understood, we feel affirmed and validated.”

Do you know that Jesus is a great role model of reading the scriptures? Jesus went about listening and caring for people and and I’m particularly interested in what happened in John 4. We read the story. You might know where Jesus met up with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s. Well, you can read it in John 4:1-27. And here it was, Jesus and this woman, about midday, the hottest part of the day. Jesus obviously was weary. He sat down, and a Samaritan woman joined him to get a drink of water from the well. Now, Jews traditionally do not speak to Samaritans, let alone a woman.

But Jesus broke that rule, and he asked her to get him a drink. And this amazing conversation opened up where she revealed so much about her own personal life that when the disciples returned, they were quite surprised. The Bible says to see Jesus talking to a woman, and she didn’t have a very good reputation. But Jesus didn’t condemn her. He actually showed a remarkable ability to listen – to go past the mask or facade that she had on and to observe her.

And I think like Jesus, you know, we have to have his eyes and ears to hear and see what people are saying, Of course, we’ll meet up with hurt and anger and disappointment and these sorts of things. But when was the last time you actually gave your own time and words and heart to help somebody else?

Let’s Pray

Thank you, dear Lord, that these are the lessons we learned from Jesus as he listened and cared for others. Amen.