“Did you hear what I just said? What did I just say?” the frustrated teacher responds to the disobedient student. Training children to listen and actually follow instructions is the challenge of every parent, teacher, or coach.
The amazing thing is that Jesus had the same problem with adults. He would state a life-giving truth and then conclude “he who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:9) He even quotes the prophecy of Isaiah (6:9-10) that states men will hear and not understand, see and not perceive, because “their hearts of this people have grown dull, their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes are closed.”
Why is it so hard for people to hear? The Isaiah verse Jesus quoted gives some pertinent insight. It points out that a choice is involved. The people have hardened their hearts, meaning they don’t want to be affected or corrected. Likewise, closing their eyes and becoming hard of hearing suggest that one deliberately chooses to refuse to see and hear, usually because it would require a change of attitude, thinking, and behavior. Man doesn’t want to change. Man wants to do things his own way, he wants to be God.
God calls us to repent. Repent means to change our inner heart and attitude, and then carry out this different way of thinking through deliberate different actions. God’s thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than our ways. He looks for the person who has “a humble and contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2) When someone humbly lays down his own thoughts and honestly seeks truth and life from God’s thoughts, then God is free to let His presence and power work mightily in that life.
How can anyone know what God is really saying? Jesus said in John 7:17 that if anyone’s will is to do the will of the Father, he will know whether the teaching is from God or man. The real question that determines whether we hear is not the volume of the words that falls on our ears, but rather the inner willingness to obey what is spoken.
So the point is, what are you willing to hear? Do you desire God to speak into your life? Have you taken time this morning to read His word with an attitude of wanting to let His thoughts and desires become yours? John Wesley always knelt down to read the word because he wanted to be in a position of surrender to God’s will. When you tremble before the majesty and authority of God’s word, your ears will be attentive and you will hear.