Summary: “Ear” God’s Word 1) By listening prayerfully, asking for understanding 2) By listening persistently, seeking depth of knowledge and conviction 3) By listening attentively, blocking out earthly cares and concerns
Can you palm a basketball? Can you grip a basketball with one hand so that you can pick it up off the floor and wave it around without it slipping out of your hand? I can’t palm a basketball and there’s nothing I can do about it. I stopped growing a long time ago. My hands won’t get any bigger than they are.
You may not be able to palm a basketball either but I bet you can palm a Bible. Even children have the ability to grip a small Bible with one hand. So what? Holding a Bible does us no good unless we open it and listen to what God has to say there. So instead of asking whether you can palm a Bible I should ask whether you can “ear” the Bible. “Ear-ing” God’s Word is not the same as hearing it. Jesus makes that clear through the Parable of the Sower. There he urges us to “ear” God’s Word by listening to it prayerfully, persistently, and attentively.
A pair of functioning ears doesn’t make one into a good listener anymore than a luxury car makes its owner into a good driver. Both listening and driving takes focused concentration. Jesus makes that clear in regard to listening when he compares God’s Word to a seed that fell on a path. Before the seed could take root birds snatched it away. Jesus is describing those people who hear the Word of God but don’t listen to it and so Satan takes it away from them before it can create faith. These people may be swayed by the so-called experts who say that the Bible is nothing more than a book of myths. Instead of checking out these claims for themselves, they gladly accept them. And why not? If the Bible is true, then they won’t be able to stand before God on their own two feet because of their sins. That’s not something their pride would like them to admit.
But it’s not just outright unbelievers that have a hard time “ear-ing” God’s Word. So do we. Instead of listening prayerfully to God’s Word and asking for understanding as we read and hear it we’re tempted to ignore teachings we think will make life difficult. For example the student may choose to gloss over what God says about creation in favor of what her professor is teaching about evolution. It just makes it easier for her to fit in with the class that way. Or a pastor may choose to “skip over” the class on the antichrist or fellowship to make it “easier” for people to join the church. What he’d be saying though is that he knows better than God in regard to what his listeners need for their eternal safety. He’d be like the woodworking instructor who doesn’t insist that his students wear safety goggles when they work. Sure, a piece of splintered wood may never tear into his students’ unprotected eyes but why take the chance?
With the Parable of the Sower Jesus wants us to know that we ignore his Word, any part of it, at our peril. No, I’m not saying every Bible teaching will be easy to put into practice and faithfully confess. But one who “ears” God’s Word will continue to listen to the Word prayerfully and ask God for understanding with the tough doctrines so that we may continue to stand strong in the faith. Our prayer will be “Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
The only thing that will lead to overcoming our unbelief is listening to God’s Word persistently, seeking depth of knowledge and conviction. Again, this is not something every Christian does and will suffer the consequences. Jesus illustrated that truth by describing seed that fell on soil with rock beneath it. Although a plant quickly grew in that spot it just as quickly withered when the heat of summer hit because it didn’t have deep roots with which to find moisture.
This scenario describes people who at first listen to God’s Word, believe it, and rejoice but because they don’t do anything to deepen their knowledge of Jesus their faith withers when hard times come. Does that describe you? It may if you harbour thoughts like: “Going to church is good but I don’t want to become a fanatic about it. After all I have a life to live!” Or “There’s not much else I need to learn about the Bible. I’ve gone through confirmation. And it’s faith in Jesus that saves right, not faith in all the other Bible doctrines?” Yes, faith in Jesus saves but all the other doctrines support your faith in Jesus. If your faith isn’t sending its roots deep into God’s Word, it will be ripped from the heart when your world comes crashing in on you. What would you think of a soldier who after going through basic training refused to keep working out, take target practice, and do manoeuvres with his platoon - his reasoning being that there is no war at the moment and therefore sees no need to waste energy on these tedious activities? That’s not a soldier who’s going to last long when fighting does start is it? (Mark Braun) The reason a soldier constantly trains in time of peace is because war can break out in an instant and he wants to be ready to survive it.