Monday, September 26, 2016

Ears to Hear

If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.
Matthew 11:15
Mark 4:9
Mark 4:23
Mark 7:16
Luke 8:8
Luke 14:35

See all those references?  Apparently Jesus said this a lot, but He wasn't talking about simply listening. He was assuming that hearing caused an action.  

In James 1:19,20 it says, "But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God."  There is a logical progression in this instruction.  James is assuming that you're listening to something, it apparently is offensive to you that makes you speak and makes you angry.  But instead of simply reacting to what is being said, he wants you to slow things down.  Be quick to listen - actually hear what is being said to you, but then slow to speak - think through your response or even better, think through what has just been said to you.  Is there truth in it?  Are you being defensive because it hits too close to home?  And then, be slow to anger.  Don't let things rile you up quickly.  Make sure your anger is righteous, not selfish.  

All of this goes back to the premise that when you really hear something, it causes an action.  Jesus, in all His above quotes, wanted His audience to pay attention and hear, so that they can act on what they are being told.  Unfortunately we tend to hear all day but not act. Or when we do act, we REACT rather than purposefully ACT in righteousness. So maybe we don't really have ears to hear?

Do you have someone in your life who constantly wants your advice? They come to you with their struggles, wanting you to clearly understand the difficult situation they are in, and then ask you what to do?  Then, after you give your words of wisdom, they either defend why they can't do what you have suggested or they leave and never put into practice what you instructed?  Come on, you know those people.  As a matter of fact, you can watch the interest in their eyes disappear as soon as you begin to speak. It's as if they have their hands over their ears while you are speaking. So why are they even coming to you in the first place?  Perhaps a better question is this:  are you one of those people who constantly comes to Jesus with your hands over your ears?

There's not much we can do about friends who don't listen, but Jesus isn't instructing us to encourage others to hear - He's telling us, if you have ears, then listen to what I am saying...and act on it.  Just two verses later in James 1, it says, "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves."  We delude ourselves by thinking we have sought out counsel for our problems but are still struggling.  We've cried out to the Lord and He's just not answering.  We've listened to sermons and Christian radio and nothing in our lives has changed.

Just because you have ears doesn't mean you're hearing.  When you act on the Word, in faith, doing what is right rather than what feels right, then there is evidence that you are actually hearing.  So today is a Monday.  Most of us heard something yesterday at church or read something this morning in our devotions.  Let's make the choice today to prove our hearing works just fine and put what we have heard into action.