Ears to HearTake Heed What & How You Hear
MAR 4:23 "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." 24] And He said to them, "Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. 25] For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him."
Many years ago I preached a message in which I used 1 Peter 4:12 as my text which read, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you." In the message a stressed the importance of understanding that trials and tests are a normal part of life and that we should understand, according to the scriptures, that we should not consider challenges a "strange" thing.
The message seemed to be well received with many people nodding theirs heads in approval and saying "Amen" to many of the truths I shared. I felt assured that my audience understood the scriptural admonition not to consider trials a "strange thing" and to face times of testing with full confidence in God and the promises of His Word.
Soon after the service concluded and while we were greeting one another, a young woman asked to speak with me. She make the following statement, "Pastor, pray for me. What I have been dealing with is so strange..." Naturally, I asked her if she had heard the message. She said that she listened to the entire message. But I thought to myself, "you were listening to the message, but you did not hear the Word."
Listening and hearing are not always the same thing. While listening is a function of our ears and auditory organs to detect sound waves and convert them to recognizable words that register in our brain, hearing is a function of our will to understanding what is being said. The fact is: Many people do not hear—not just in church, but in many areas of life. Listening is a natural, physical ability, but hearing must be cultivated through training one’s heart and mind to grasp what is being said.
Many scriptures declare the important of hearing. Faith itself comes by hearing; "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." (Rom. 10:17) Hearing is much more important than most people imagine. Hearing is obviously a necessary component in communication. Insofar as our walk with God is concerned, hearing is all important:
How you hear will determine the quality of your life
How you hear will determine your level of authority and responsibility in life
How you hear will determine the measure of God’s anointing on your life.
Hearing determines aptitude (ability) "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."
Jesus said that one must have "ears to hear." This indicates one’s willingness to hear instruction and direction. Many people have never reached first base because they are not willing to hear, not willing to make a commitment to excellence, not willing to move out of familiar territory.
Our Lord never forced people to listen to Him or follow Him. He invited them to participate with Him and the blessing of God. Often, Jesus began a teaching with the statement "he who has ears to hear, let him hear." He would then proceed to teach and afterwards wait for a response. Many people walked away, others were bewildered, but a few lingered and inquired further of the things Jesus taught.
Today, in every endeavor of life, those who demonstrate the greatest ability and proficiency are those who have made it their business to hear, to learn and to put in practice those principles they have heard.
Jesus invites everyone, in one way or another, to hear and know Him, but He lets our response determine the degree of understanding and fruitfulness we experience.
"And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48] He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.(John 12:47)
A lack of hearing, or hearing the wrong things, will cripple your ability to walk in the full blessing and opportunities of life. For example, those who would become medical doctors must spend countless hours hearing and reflecting upon what they have heard in the context of medicine. In fact, any important profession or endeavor requires a full commitment to having "ears to hear."
On the other hand, there are endeavors in life that do not require a great commitment to hearing—and people are often relegated to low level positions, opportunities and jobs because they would not incline themselves to hear and learn.
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. (Heb. 2:1)
Hearing determines attitude (state of mind), "Take heed what [or how] you hear..."
What measure of hearing do you use? That is, to what degree do you open your mind and heart to hear instruction and direction? There are four ways in which all of us choose to listen, which affects how we hear.
Passive Listening • Passive means, "not active, but acted upon." Passive people are generally sluggish and disengaged—believing that "whatever will be, will be." Passive listeners only "purk up" when something is said that has the promise of easing their burdens or bringing more comfort into their lives.
A passive listener is the of kind person who ignores instruction on the importance of changing the oil in their automobile every 3000 miles. They only change it when the car begins to sputter and just before the engine locks up. Again, they don’t act until they are acted upon. Passive listeners labor under a great number of self induced problems because they do nothing in a preemptive manner.
Passive listening produces frustration in any communication process because people who appear to be interested do not follow through to fulfill expectations.
Convenient Listening • Convenient is defined as, "Situated within easy reach." The convenient listener only applies his heart to hear when the information or task is within easy reach. As believers, we have a dilemma: We live in a world that promotes convenience above everything; but we also live in a Kingdom of which Jesus said, "the violent [or aggressive] take it by force" (Matt 11:12). Our American society emphasizes the acquisition of wealth and comfort. This is not to say that wealth and comfort are evil, but it can certainly become a distraction to our spiritual mission, which is often full of inconvenience.
Many of the teachings of our Lord were hard to hear. On one occasion, Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you... He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." (John 6:53, 56). Not only did Jesus provide no room for a convenient relationship with Himself, He called His disciples to enter into a spiritual intimacy of which nothing they had experienced could compare. Many thought that He spoke of cannibalism, and where offended to the point of deciding to no longer walk with Him.
Jesus did not flinch at the response of many of His so-called disciples; "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more" (John 6:66). Divine communication is uncompromising. Truth is an "all or nothing" proposition. Therefore, the idea of convenience belongs to human nature and not to the divine nature. Convenient listeners will not choose to endure the intensity of relationship required by the Lord, nor will they choose to continue with any human endeavor that requires commitments and responsibilities that threaten their "comfort zone."
Critical Listening • The word "critical" is defined as, "exhibiting the spirit of one who looks for and points out faults and defects." Communication often fails because of critical listening that is more concerned about finding faults than in understanding the content and meaning of the message. Critical listeners are not motivated to learn and grow. Such persons usually develop a self-righteous attitude that does not permit them to objectively consider what others have to say. At the same time, they are usually frustrated with others for not listening to them. Jesus addressed this condition:
"For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3] And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:2-3)
Hypocrisy can often be found at the root of a critical spirit. To paraphrase, "How can you talk about the tiny particle in another person’s eye, while you have a log hanging out of your own eye? You have a worse problem than the person you are criticizing!" A critical spirit in the midst of any working group makes in difficult to progress because communication involves the principle of positive exchange. A critical spirit must be rooted out before any fruitful progress can be made.
• A critical spirit does not want to be judged by the same standard that he judges others.
• A critic considers himself above others.
A critical spirit should not be confused with "righteous judgment" which is an objective and dispassionate analysis of a person or situation. Proper judgment is based on three items,
1. Factual information: A clear knowledge of actual words or actions.
2. Authoritative revelation: One is in the position to make a judgment—such as a pastor regarding his congregation or as a supervisor over his department.
3. Personal examination: One who examines his own motives and has come to acknowledge his own weaknesses.
JOH 7:24 "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."
Active Listening • This should become our goal: To actively listen so that we can "hear" the communication. "Active" is defined: "Not waiting to be acted upon. Prepared to apply what is heard and act on it—regardless of circumstances.
JAM 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
Active listeners always hear because they are prepared to do what they have heard. According to James, such persons are "blessed" in their efforts. People who rise to positions of authority and responsibility are those have learned to be active listeners. People of strong faith are those who have learned how to listen to God, meditate in the Word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to lead them in every endeavor of life. As Paul said in Romans 10:17, "So the faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."
While a handful of people may be gifted in being able to retain information that they hear, the vast majority of people must develop their listening skills and learn to value the principles of communication.
Hearing determines altitude (height)
With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. 25] For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him."
People who hear are in a position to move in the will of God. Jesus plainly said that those who hear will experience an expansion in their lives. The kingdom of God (and life in general) is built on the principle of "seedtime and harvest" which states that each us of us reaps what we have sown. Hearing is a form of sowing, in that, by giving yourself to hear, you reap a condition called "understanding" or "revelation" which is the fruit of knowledge and wisdom. Understanding and revelation allows you to move into new and greater areas of life and ministry.
This is what is meant by the statement "For whoever has, to him more will be given..." Someone might ask, "More of what?" The answer is: "More of everything!"
The person who hears can be entrusted with greater authority and responsibility. People who do not hear and carry out instructions do not advance in any organization. In fact, they are in danger of demotion or dismissal if failing to hear and carry out duties becomes a regular occurrence.
The person who does not hear is always in the process of decline—having less and less entrusted to him and even losing what he has. Failing to hear is a choice that people make which leads to gaining a reputation for being unstabled, inconsistent and "spaced out." As a church leader and overseer to a couple of church related businesses, I know the frustration of discovering that someone has not fulfilled an assignment. I don’t believe in putting every instruction in writing. It is my staff’s responsibility to be clear about what I have said. Often, we build our organizations around the lowest common denominator—which is often those who don’t actively listen.
As christians, we are called to a higher standard. We should not accommodate people in important positions who choose not to hear. I am reminded of the common practice we have as preachers in which we state our sermon text twice. We say, "Turn in your Bibles to Matthew Chapter Ten ...Matthew Chapter Ten." Still someone asks, "What chapter did he say?" People are conditioned to not actively listen to the first instruction, because they know that we will repeat it.
Hearing produces a faithful spirit, which brings you into the "true riches" of God.
LUK 16:11 "Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12] And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?
Since hearing allows one to effectively serve others, it is only a matter of time before an effective person is promoted.