The Importance of Listening
by Ronny E. Hinds

I am sure we all have played the game where a group of people sat in a circle, and one person whispered a message in the ear of the one sitting next to them, and that continued around the circle until it returned to the one who had started it. At that point it was to be spoken out loud and compared to what had originally been whispered. Hardly, if ever, did it come out the same as it started.

Such an experience teaches us the importance of listening. And, no doubt, we have had many other experiences in life that taught us the same lesson. Listening is not easy. It requires our attentiveness. Good, careful listening requires as much care and concentration, perhaps more, as talking does. Maybe that is overstating it, but you get my point.

I have always found Jesus' statement in Luke 8:18 instructive. He said, "Therefore take heed how you hear." Note the emphasis He placed on the manner, the "how," of our listening. It is also instructive to note that He had just told one of His famous parables, the Parable of the Sower, for which verse 18 serves as the conclusion.

This parable speaks of four different kinds of soils and compares them to four different kinds of listeners. It draws a picture from ancient time when a farmer sowed seed by reaching into a cloth sack, grasping a handful of seed, and then broadcasting it back and forth. Obviously some seed would fall along the edge of the field where people walked. It was called "the wayside." It was trampled down, hard packed, and no seed sprouted there. A second part of the field was made up of rocky ground. Evidently the rock was buried beneath a very shallow layer of dirt. So, although the seed had soil enough to sprout, it quickly withered as that thin layer of soil dried out. A third area of the field had thorns. The seed that found its way there sprouted, but was soon choked out by the thorns. Finally, Jesus pictures the "good ground." This "sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold." Jesus then says, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

What do you "hear" from this? Jesus tells us what we should learn by explaining it in Luke 8:11-17. Clearly He is calling on us not to be listeners like the first three soils, but rather like the good ground which receives the seed and produces something. In Matthew 7:24 Jesus says it is a "wise man" that "hears these sayings of Mine, and does them." Are you listening? Think about these things!