Summary: God wants us to have big ears so we can gain knowledge, build relationships, and understand what God says to us.
One of the major television networks offers a series about people who are unhappy with their bodies and are willing to undergo surgery and all kinds of treatments to change. When they find someone willing to undergo a makeover, they bring in a team of plastic surgeons, eye surgeons, dentists, fashion stylists, and make-up artists, all with California addresses, to change the way they look. (http://abc.go.com/primetime/extrememakeover/)
For example, there was a top-notch car mechanic named Mike whose dating life was a wreck. His overhaul at the Extreme Makeover body shop included laser skin treatment, laser hair removal, acne surgery, lip and gum repositioning, and getting his ears pinned.
Then there was Cynthia, a mother of three who was born with Congenital Nerve Deafness, a condition that forced her to live with severe hearing loss. She compensated by becoming a master lip reader. But as Cynthia got older, her sight also deteriorated, making it more difficult for her to communicate. In hopes of changing these afflictions, Cynthia not only received a physical makeover, but she became the first person in the U.S. to receive a special digital hearing device. Cynthia also received a face lift, browlift, upper and lower eyelid lift, rhinoplasty, tummy tuck, Lasik eye surgery, 6 crowns, 9 upper and 9 lower porcelain veneers, and a dental bridge.
Maybe some of you have dreamed about getting an Extreme Makeover to change some aspect of your physical body. You’d like to have joints that don’t give you pain or you’d like more hair on your head or less weight to carry around. I can’t promise you a makeover like that, but I can promise that if you follow the directions you find in God’s word, your life can be full of energy, purpose, and beauty. You can have an Extreme Makeover that starts from the inside.
For five Sundays, we are going to focus on the book of James. I urge you to read it once a week for the next five weeks to get in mind what God may be saying to you. On each of the five Sundays we will focus on the makeover of one part of our anatomy. Today we’ll be thinking about our ears. It may surprise you that God wants you to have big ears, something like the wolf in the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Remember, when Little Red Riding Hood told the wolf, “What big ears you have,” the wolf said, “All the better to hear you with, my dear.” That’s the kind of ears we need, the kind that help us to hear well.
During the Sunday school hour this morning we had two specialists who went around to the junior and youth classes to measure the size of their ears. I have the results here and I want to award a pair of bigger ears to someone whose ears are not so big. I’m sure some of you have been told, “I wish you’d listen to me.” Maybe a pair of larger ears would help. Unfortunately, I have only one pair here today.
For you kids starting to school in a few days, you will need big ears so you can listen well. I don’t know how much listening kids do in one day. Some parents probably think they never listen! Some research says that adults spend about 70% of their waking time communicating and 45% of that time is spent in listening. And if you want to become a company executive you should be prepared to listen about 60% of the time. One writer said, “We listen a book a day, speak a book a week, read a book a month, and write a book a year.” You can see how important listening is.
Have you ever noticed that God gave us two ears and only one mouth? Why do you suppose that is? Probably so that we listen more than we talk. Many years ago the Greek writer Zeno said, “We have two ears but only one mouth that we may hear more and speak less.” James talks about the same idea. You really need big ears.
Our Bible verse from James 1:19 says, “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” Notice that listening comes first. You may know people who speak before they listen. It’s a temptation we all have, but the Bible says to listen first.
I really like the way these verses are written in the Message translation. “Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger, so throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation garden of your life.” We understand from these words that it is really important to listen. Why is it so important to listen? We need to become good listeners for several reasons.