Luke 1:62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child.
It has always struck me that Zechariah and Elizabeth’s friends and neighbors assumed he couldn’t hear, when all Gabriel had said was that he wouldn’t be able to speak. This actually is a common thing. When someone doesn’t respond as we expect, we assume they didn’t hear properly in the first place, but that isn’t necessarily the case. They may think we are talking to someone else. Sometimes they are thinking about it, considering the answer. Sometimes they don’t want to give the answer they know is expected and/or desired. Sometimes they are ignoring us deliberately! We act that way toward God often enough. He speaks to us often, through His Word and otherwise, but our responses are all over the place. It’s true that we often don’t recognize that He’s speaking to us, either because our spiritual ears are dull or because we think what He said doesn’t apply to us. That’s why Jesus said, “He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:15 and many more. In Revelation 2:7, etc. He cuts it down to one ear!) Several years ago Don Francisco recorded a song that has the line, “He’s talking to the hypocrite, Pharisee, anybody else but me!” We register that God has spoken, but we fail to apply it to ourselves. That’s exactly what James was talking about, and he said that’s no more than self-deception. (James 1:22)
I’m certainly talking to myself here. I couldn’t begin to count all the times I’ve failed to receive and apply what God has said to me, even when I heard Him clearly enough. That should give me patience in dealing with those around me, but often enough it doesn’t! We are all deeply flawed human beings, and it is only by the grace of God that we make it through at all. I’ve got to remember God’s grace toward me and apply that grace toward others. That doesn’t mean excusing them, but it does mean forgiving them. The longer I live the easier it is to recognize character flaws in people, but at the same time I have to recognize that those same flaws are reflected in me. As often as I have heard God and failed to act, I shouldn’t despise anyone for doing the same! Especially when I am the instrument through whom God is speaking, I need to express the message as many times as necessary, in as many different ways as possible, so that they may have the maximum opportunity to receive it and act on it.
Father, this is a daily exercise, as You know well. Help me never give up on anyone, but also not take their feigned deafness personally. May I be a willing and conscious mouthpiece for You, not going around saying “Thus sayeth the Lord,” but allowing You to touch people through me to open their eyes, heal them, correct them, and otherwise turn them to You, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!