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Applying the Character Quality of Attentiveness

Attentiveness vs. Distraction

3 min

Attentiveness is giving a “hearing heart” to the people or projects that need our concentration.

Qashab is the root word of the primary Hebrew word rendered attentive [qashshab]. It describes the attentiveness a son should give to his father’s instruction. It means “to prick up the ears, i.e. hearken.” The word ’azan is translated give ear and means “to broaden out the ear.” The Hebrew word shama, translated as listen, describes our attentiveness to God and means “to hear intelligently.”

The Greek word for attentive is ekkremamai, which means “to hang upon the lips of a speaker, i.e. listen closely.” This is the word used to describe the attentiveness of the crowds who listened to Jesus teach. (See Luke 19:48.)

Attentiveness Pleases God

It is vital to develop attentiveness, because many other character qualities are dependent on it. Without attentiveness, we will not even hear the commands of Scripture or the instructions of parents or authorities.

  • “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels” (Proverbs 1:5).
  • “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26).
  • “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Attentiveness to the Voice of God and the Direction of the Holy Spirit

God speaks to us through the Scriptures and the prophets of old: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16). “As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets …” (Luke 1:70).

The Holy Spirit illuminates and directs our attention to verses that have special application in our lives. These important promises build faith and bring true success. (See Matthew 4:4, Romans 10:17, and John 15:7.)

If we have been too busy for God’s Word, then we have been too busy! Set a time and a place that you can use for private appointments with the Lord in His Word.

If we have been too busy for God’s Word, then we have been too busy!

Attentiveness to the Instructions of Your Father and Mother

Scripture commands and exhorts us to honor our parents by listening to them. “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Proverbs 1:8). “Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2–3). “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it” (Proverbs 30:17).

Attentiveness to parents (or any other authority) begins by understanding that God communicates His will to us through those He places in authority over us. When the children of Israel murmured against Moses, God said, “Your murmurings are not against … [Moses], but against the LORD” (Exodus 16:8).

Attentiveness springs from an obedient spirit—a prior commitment and desire to do what authorities ask us to do unless it violates Scripture. If their request does violate Scripture, we should wisely make an appeal regarding their request in order to maintain a higher commitment to never do evil.

Attentiveness to the Counsel of Wise Advisors

By walking with wise men, we will be wise. (See Proverbs 13:20.) One effective way to walk with the wise is to read the biographies of great men and women of faith. As Charles Jones stated, “You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read”

We should get wisdom as cheaply as we can. Others have paid a high price for it through lessons learned “the hard way” and will usually share the wisdom they gained from their experience if we ask them to do so. “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end” (Proverbs 19:20). “… In multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 24:6).

We must always confirm with Scripture the counsel we receive and make sure that there are no cautions from the Spirit of God that our consciences override.

Personal Evaluation

  • Do you spend time each day reading God’s Word and asking the Holy Spirit how you can apply Scripture to your daily life?
  • Do you turn Scripture into personal prayers?
  • Do you take time to listen to God speak to you as you pray?
  • Would your parents say you have an obedient spirit when they give you instructions?
  • Do you confirm instruction with the Word of God?
  • Do you surround yourself with wise and mature counselors?
  • Do you regularly read about great Christians?
Explore more about this topic in The Power for True Success

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