When I was a young lad going to school, I learned early on that listening to your teacher was the secret to better grades and increased learning capacity. It was helpful for me to listen attentively because I was a quite hard hearing from a child and I was sight impaired. Even so, no one can learn everything they need to know on their own. No matter how smart you are, unless you have the capacity to listen to others, you will always be misinformed. In fact, listening is helpful in all aspects of life. It helps to listen in business, in social settings, and especially in family life. Anyone who doesn’t listen to their spouse or children soon discovers that their family is soon torn apart. Many a war could have been prevented if only nations would have listened to each other.
According to the scriptures, hearing is very important as well. 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 or mind of the receiver. The significance of faith can be seen, in that without it, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). It has been said that there are three types of hearing: non-hearing, hearing without absorbing, and thinking on what they hear.” Let us notice each of these and how they relate to spiritual service.
The non-hearing: These are the ones who will sit in an audience and can neither agree nor disagree with what is said. They are either voluntarily or involuntarily inattentive. They do not know what is being said. They are not worshiping even though they are present. They are among those who laugh to themselves, play with babies, sleep, stare, daydream, write notes and/or talk etc. They need to discipline themselves into a proper disposition to worship God (Jn. 4:24).
Hearing without absorbing: The ones in this category 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.
The thinking listener: The one who will think on the subject as the speaker presents it is the one who is being taught. He listens with interest and wants to learn and know the truth.
Conclusion: How well have you been hearing lately? Christ taught that men should take heed “how” and “what” they hear (Mk 4:24 f; Lk. 8:18). Upon which level do you listen? Are you among the “non-hearing,” the “hearing without absorbing,” or, “the thinking”?