Why should we take care how we hear?

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Heb. 5:11
Full Text: Song. 5; Heb. 5

Noises | Horns honking, people yelling, jackhammers pounding, ambulances screaming – these are the sounds of New York … and usually right outside our windows at 7:00 am! According to the New York Academy of Medicine, the noise of Manhattan is putting New Yorkers at risk of hearing loss. Most of us, however, hardly notice the crowds and chaos anymore. Yet Columbia Professor Robyn Gershon cautions, “That’s the problem with noise. It sneaks up on you. It’s a hidden hazard and a hidden health outcome” [1].

Ears | This was a problem in the early church. Although God had spoken by the prophets “at many times and in many ways” and by the Son “in these last days” [2], the new believers were already letting the gospel go in one ear and out the other. They were satisfied with a superficial knowledge of the gospel and were failing to work out its truths into their lives. As the writer of Hebrews lamented, “We have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing” [3].

Growth | As a result of their dull hearing, even though they had been Christians for years, they were acting like babies. They were still eating baby food and living “unskilled in the word of righteousness” [4]. Their spiritual growth was stunted because they weren’t receiving the nutrition they needed. What was that nutrition? The daily practice of applying the gospel to their lives: “Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” [5].

Prayer | Lord, Forgive our dull hearing. Some of us have become so accustomed to hearing your word that the joy of living it out has lost its hold on our hearts. As a result, our love and faith have grown stunted. O Lord, knowing that Jesus told us to “take care” [6] how we hear, we pray that you would help us to receive the word actively, not passively, so that your word does not become ineffective in our lives and so that we can grow in discernment and obedience in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.



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[1] Samantha Gross. “New York City noise may be deafening.” 26 October 2010.  |  [2] See Heb. 1:1-2. See also 843 Acres, “Have you ever longed for God to speak?” 26 April 2012.  |  [3] Heb. 5:11 ESV (italicized because it is the Highlighted Text of the day)  |  [4] Heb. 5:13 ESV  |  [5] Heb. 5:14 ESV  |  [6] In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus emphasized the importance of paying attention to how we hear.  He told of a sower who dropped seed in four different soils, each resulting in different yields.  Jesus explained that the seed was the Word of God and the different soils were the people who heard it.  What accounted for the different yields was not whether they heard the Word, but how they heard it:“Take care then how you hear …” (Luke 8:18, ESV).

2 Comments to “Why should we take care how we hear?”

  1. Who would dare tell us, in this individualistic, relativist society dare tell us we have become dull. Even Christians. Bonhoeffer says for us to confess to one another so we are dependent on each other. But harder to do when it comes to helping ourselves and others grow…sometimes..it can be a plank vs. speck or vice versa. What say ye?

  2. Calvin, I always love your comments – and miss hearing them in person! :) Not sure exactly what you mean here. Are you saying that our culture could never be dull to hearing the Word because we’re not hearing it at all? That might be true, but that’s not the issue with the people to whom this letter is addressed. The writer of Hebrews wasn’t making a cultural critique; he was writing a pastoral letter to believers who were, in fact, hearing the Word. They weren’t hearing it, however, in a way that led to their doing it in their lives. No doubt that there are some – like me, for example! – who are still like this in our culture, right? What say ye? :) BLJ

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