Then pay attention to how you listen, for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to
have will be taken away.
I guess I fit the marketer’s demographic; hardly a week goes by that I don’t receive a postcard touting the latest hearing aid. I know that I frequently want to turn up the volume on the television, but am I really becoming hard of hearing?
Of far greater concern to me is my spiritual hearing. How is it? Am I hearing God? Am I losing my ability to hear Him speak to me? In asking these questions I realized the idea of actually hearing God speak to us is dismissed and even belittled by some. Take, for instance, actress and comedienne Joy Behar saying last week, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness.” Even in some Christian circles the idea of God speaking to us is relegated to Bible times only. “That’s something God did back then, but not today!”
Nevertheless, my concern about my spiritual hearing was spurred recently as I read and reread Jesus’ warning to His closest of friends: “Then pay attention to how you listen, for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away’ (Luke 8:18).
Jesus’ words got my attention! Either we are listening to Jesus speak to us, or we begin to lose our spiritual hearing. Consider New Testament theologian Darrell Bock’s commentary on Jesus’ words:
“So Jesus urges his audience to be careful to how they listen. The stakes are high. The one who has listened by responding to the word will receive more. But as for those who think they have something but do not have anything (because they do not receive the word), even what they thought the had will be taken away.” (Emphasis added, Darrell Bock, Luke: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series)
In the Book of The Revelation, the ascended and glorified Jesus warns the Church about how we listen to God. Seven times Jesus says: “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). It’s possible for us to have ears to listen and yet not listen to the Spirit of God. And, not to listen is to further lose our ability to listen.
There was a time when I had locked God away into a neat and tidy theological box in which God could do anything but speak. Then God broke out of the box! I came to see that while God never speaks in ways contrary to Scripture, He does speak in ways other than just passages in a Bible.
Paying attention to how we listen has to begin with our believing that God is speaking! God has “wired” you and me for sound. The Bible is filled with “God said”. There is the voice of God in the Garden; God calling Abram in Chaldea; speaking to Moses from the burning bush; talking to Balaam through the mouth of a donkey; revealing His plan for the ages to Daniel through a dream. We find God infinitely creative in knowing how to talk to us.
If God could speak to people in the Old Testament, then how much more can He speak to us who are the Temple of the Holy Spirit! Christ lives in us and we in Him! Jesus did say, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Hearing Jesus and following Him marks people as His followers.
How is your spiritual hearing? Why not talk a few moments to sense what God might be saying to you through a sermon, Bible passage, prayer, circumstance, or a friend. Pay attention to how you’re listening!
I can’t think of a more important subject than listening to God. So next week we will explore more of what it means to pay attention.
Grace and peace,