This is one of the selections in the devotional book Awaken that I’m reading right now.
Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?”
Luke 7:44 (NASB)
Looking and seeing are two different things. They represent the same gap in attention that exists between hearing and listening. One is merely the physical, almost involuntary action of a functioning human body, while the other action requires the willing cooperation of the heart. Many a rebellious teenager has acceded to the former (looking, not seeing–hearing, not listening) while showing little interest or regard for the latter. In fact, many a rebellious grownup has done it too, if we’re being quite honest about it.
This duplicitous posture is the stock-in-trade of the busy, the self-consumed, and the haughtily superior. Whenever we’re certain that our own schedules and reputations are the most important to maintain, we lack the sensitivity and compassion needed to pay attention to what someone else is saying and truly digest what they’re communicating. We fail to see–to really see–what’s happening in someone else’s heart, and thus we fail to offer sympathy, compassion, and resolution.
In this biblical moment from Luke 7, Simon the Pharisee had just witnessed the shocking spectacle of a lewd woman sneaking uninvited into his home during a dinner party, and pouring her worshipful tears and perfume on the feet of Jesus. Every eye in the room had looked on, including Simon’s–horrified, taken aback. They all saw her, but Jesus specifically asked Simon to look again.
Because if he could really see her, he would know that this woman–this unsavory looking woman–had come seeking forgiveness from her Savior. She had come seeking forgiveness for sins no worse or more heinous than those committed by the smug and self-righteous. And if he had seen this in her, rather than merely gawking at her, his hypocrisy would have melted into humility. His critique would have morphed into compassion. His inclination for judging would have turned the camera of inspection toward himself, so that he could have walked out of that place with the same gifts she did–saving faith and blessed “peace” from Jesus Himself (Luke 7:50).
How different would your own relationships and encounters with others be if you, by God’s Spirit, could heighten your looking into seeing? How much more fruitful could your personal impact become on an everyday basis if you elevated your hearing into listening?
You would become a choice instrument in the hand of God, prepared for His purposes, propelled by His passion, moved to displays of grace and mercy toward the hurting victims of a lost and dying world.
As you walk into this coming day, don’t just look. See. Ask the Lord to give you eyes of discernment to detect layers below the surface, and to respond in a way that will honor Him and bless others.
Seeing, not just looking; listening, not just hearing–this is what Jesus did, what He asks us to do. Looking and hearing are actions that we just do, almost involuntarily; they’re part of being human. But seeing? Listening? Those are voluntary actions, things we have to choose/want to do, behavior that needs “the willing cooperation of the heart.”
The story above is just one example of a time when others looked but only Jesus saw. And, yes, we might judge Simon the Pharisee and others like him–but, quite honestly, how many times have we done exactly what he did? Looking, but not seeing; judging, without judging ourselves; watching someone receive forgiveness, and not admitting that we need forgiveness just as much as they do?
The second-to-last paragraph I underlined in the book, because YES. If only we see and listen, then we are “choice instruments”–chosen and used–“prepared for His purposes, propelled by His passion”. . . Doing His purposes, His plans, His will. Propelled, urged on, filled–by His passion. Showing grace and mercy and love to the hurting, grieving, angry victims of this “lost and dying world.”
See. Listen. Pay attention. Care. Lend a hand. Show up. Be available. Be present–all there. Open your heart. Be sensitive to the Spirit’s voice saying “Do you see…?”