by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
Mark 4:23-25, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.' And he said to them, 'Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and for the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away'” (ESV, emphasis mine).
John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life” (ESV, emphasis mine).
The different contexts of the above passages are not what I would like to focus on for this devotional thought. What I do want us to focus on is the emphasis Jesus puts on hearing in both cases.
You know what I find interesting? How easy it is for us to remember the lyrics of songs from all genres. Whatever type of music we listen to it seems we absorb what we hear and can often name a song or remember lyrics as soon as we hear the first few notes. The other day as I was driving down the road I was listening to one of my CD's (I know, old school, right?). As soon as the music started I began to sing the lyrics before the artist's voice even made an appearance in the song. When this happened Jesus' phrase in our reading from Mark came to mind, “...anyone who has ears to hear, let him hear... Pay attention to what you hear.” The words made me stop and think for a moment: “Do I really listen to words from God as I should? Do I focus with as much intent and pay as much attention to Scripture, sermons, etc., as I do (whether consciously or subconsciously) to songs playing from my speakers? Why can I recite lyrics without a problem yet Scripture memorization seems to be such a struggle?”
My intent is not to make anyone feel guilty, it's simply to point out the importance of hearing and listening to what God may be “saying” to us. This is vital because paying careful attention to Scripture, sermons, lessons, and the “whispers” of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds helps us immensely with growing in our faith and Christian walk. If we devote all our attention to listening carefully to God, as many of us do with music, we will grow in our understanding and insight. Not only that, we will find ourselves growing in our relationship with Him as well. However, if we don't pay attention, we risk the chance of losing our “perception of Christ and of God's kingdom.”* Not to mention possibly missing an area of God's will for our lives. If we dedicate ourselves to listening to God through his Word and Spirit with focused attention and eagerness, we will deepen and strengthen our faith.
Suggested Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we come before you asking for your help in being focused and attentive to what you have to say to us in your Word. We ask this so we can grow in our faith and knowledge of you and deepen our relationship and personal walk with you. Make us hungry for your Word and excited to hear what you have to say to us through it. In the name of your Son, we pray, Amen.
*Quoted portion from “Learning to Listen” by Eugenie Daniels.