The Importance of Being a Good Listener
“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
Dear Family & Friends,
True listening is a rare commodity! We have ears that naturally process all sorts of sounds, but a good listener seeks understanding that motivates him to action. Jesus often used parables – stories meant to illustrate truth – to weed out those in the audience who had no real interest in spiritual things. These people heard His words and maybe even enjoyed the illustrations, but most didn’t care to find out about the hidden, deeper, meaning. One of these parables highlighted a farmer planting his field.
“Behold, the sower went out to sow,” Jesus began. Immediately the crowds perked up their ears to hear what the Teacher had to say. In their mind’s eye, they could picture this familiar scene of the farmer, bag in hand, walking through the barren fields scattering His seed over the soil.
Continuing, Jesus described the pitfalls of the ancient planting season. As the farmer raised his arm and flung the seed into the wind some of the kernels fell into the road attracting a flock of birds who gathered for an unexpected feast. Other seeds landed amongst the numerous rocks turned up during cultivation. Still, others settled in the thorns and weeds stubbornly growing around the edges of the field.
The audience sat fixated as they waited for the climax of the story. “[Other seeds] fell onto good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear,” the Teacher concluded.
The Meaning of the Parable
I can imagine Jesus looking out over the crowd as many of His listeners glanced around and started whispering to one another, “Is that it? Isn’t there any more to the story?” And unknowingly, some acted out the parable’s meaning by shrugging off the simple, but important words without any other thought. They had heard the parable but missed the meaning.
The disciples, on the other hand, came to Jesus and voiced their questions asking why He chose to hide the meaning of His teachings in parables. Quoting from the book of Isaiah, Jesus explained that many people are not good listeners. Their ears hear the consonants and vowels that form words, but they choose to walk away without understanding. Then He went on to explain the meaning behind His story.
Many listeners hear God’s word, but like the seeds fallen in places not conducive to growth, the truth does not take root in their hearts and produce lasting fruit. On the contrary, the ones who listen with ears for understanding will receive answers and produce fruit for eternity. These true listeners experience healing and are granted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven along with sharing in its abundance.
Application for Today – Being a Good Listener
Accordingly, we must seek to be good listeners today. The seed of God’s word is easily accessible in our part of the world, but often people don’t read it or seek to comprehend the meaning. The sounds and syllables enter one ear and exit the other as they sit through a church service or listen online, but they do not grasp how the words apply to them.
But to those who ask God for understanding and then obey, the secrets of the Kingdom will become clear. Like good soil, the seed will take root and produce a harvest of spiritual fruit – inner transformation revealing the Spirit of God in their lives.
Jesus stressed the importance of hearing and understanding. Therefore, the question you need to ask yourself is “What type of soil do I represent?” Am I a good listener or not?
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