One of the biggest insults one can give to you is to refuse to hear what you have to say. When it comes to God’s Word, hearing is very imperative. The apostle Paul wrote, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Faith depends on the message of God penetrating the heart, (the mind) of the receiver. The significance of faith can be illustrated in the words of the Hebrew writer who said, “Without it it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). The gospel of Christ can save anyone who will first hear it, but can save no one who does not. Let us examine a few ways in which one does and does not hear correctly.
The Non Hearing
These are they who are either voluntarily or involuntarily inattentive. They do not know what is being said by the speaker. They are not worshiping even though they are taking up space in a pew. They are either too busy or too bored to hear the Word. They keep themselves busy by sleeping, daydreaming or talking to those around them. They appear that they had rather be somewhere else and thus the Word of God profits them nothing.
Hearing Without Absorbing
They do not reason with the speaker. At times they even have their minds on distant things. However, were you to ask them a sudden question, they could repeat your last few words. These listen with divided attention. They believe that they can give God half of their attention and still be pleasing to Him.
Hearing Without Understanding
These are they who hear attentively, but they don’t understand what the preacher or teacher is saying (Mt 15:10). They are not ignorant, but they have yet to educate themselves by studying God’s Word for themselves. They depend 100% of what the speaker has to say, but have no incentive to do any research for themselves. Therefore, despite their great attention span, the Word of God profits them nothing.
Hearing Without Obedience
It was the prophet Ezekiel who illustrated this kind of listener. He hears God’s Word and understands it, but utterly rejects it (Ezek 33:31-33). He will seek to find ways the bible contradicts itself. He will seek to redefine what God has commanded. He will seek exceptions to what God has spoken. He hears with no intent of ever obeying God’s Word.
The True Hearer
The one who will ponder on the sermon as the speaker presents it is the one who is being taught. He is the one who profits greatly from all the labor and time exhausted in the presentation of the lesson. He listens with interest and wants to learn and know the truth (Jn 8:32). He is the one who weighs what is being said by comparing it to the scripture which he has read and studied (Acts 17:11 f; 2 Tim 2:15).
Anyone who has ears to hear, let them hear the Word of truth! Christ taught that men should take heed “how” and “what” they hear (Mk 4:24 f; Lk. 8:18). The question for all of us to answer is, which level do we listen to God’s Word?