Having Ears to Hear—Listening to Understand
During his public ministry, Jesus made as many opponents as disciples. His most vocal opponents, the scribes and Pharisees, should have been his strongest supporters. They knew the scriptures well. If anyone should have recognized the Messiah when He arrived, it was them. Yet, all they could do was find fault with Him and resist His teaching. I’ve been wondering exactly how it is that a competent leader can find themselves opposed by very people who should be their strongest supporters. The problem for Jesus seemed to be the way in which the scribes and Pharisees listened to Him. Often, after delivering a message, He would say, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
What exactly does it mean to have “ears to hear?”
It simply means that when we read or listen to a message, we have in our heart, a sincere desire to be instructed—to understand what the writer or speaker is saying. Unfortunately, many times what we have in our heart is not a desire to understand, but a desire to find error and refute it. That was true of the scribes and Pharisees and it has been true of me.
After I became a Christian, I attended a Bible-teaching church that taught a fundamentalist view of God. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but the teaching I came under happened to have a subtle agenda few of us understood. As much as we desired to memorize the scriptures, we were also being trained to detect and refute anything that did not line up with what the Bible taught. To be truthful, we looked for that which did not line up with our understanding of what the Bible taught.
We developed filters.
These filters were like lie-detectors that had one purpose—to detect false teaching. Once identified by the lie detector, a false teacher would be added to the mental list we created of people whose teachings we rejected. During this time, I read as much to find and refute error as to find truth. It’s good to discern teaching that plainly contradicts the main tenets of our faith, but if your heart is inclined to finding error, you won’t listen to understand. Your ears and eyes will look to find fault and you’ll become just like the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus commented that they strained at a gnat but swallowed a camel. From their perspective, they were only doing their due diligence to detect anything theologically fishy. But their obsession with finding fault had caused them to miss the most important truth of all—Israel’s long-awaited Messiah had finally come.
You may have the gift of encouraging others. Such individuals use this gift by leaving comments that encourage writers to continue their work. But what if an encourager becomes a critic? Instead of noticing the positive aspects of a message, they notice that the author tends to view God through an old covenant mindset. Or they may feel the writer overemphasizes the supernatural, or the role of church leaders. Instead of leaving positive comments, they find things to complain about.
If you’ve found yourself in the habit of reading (or listening) to find and refute error more than to understand, you might consider making a change of heart. The change could be as simple as asking the Holy Spirit to remove any filters you’ve created that cause you to be overly critical. Ask Him to highlight the positive aspects of a message, and when you see them, you might consider developing the new habit—acknowledging them and perhaps even leaving a positive comment.
I always wondered why God said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Now I know what that means. Tell Christians they MUST pray more than ever. Obama does not intend to leave office, and Christians will no longer be safe if that happens!
Very well stated. I’ve been fighting this all my life, but Holy Spirit is winning!
This is a good word. We all need to be teachable. So few are really teachable.
Really good. As usual.
And practical. I love your gift for the practical application!
Great word! And as NWP stated, very practical! I love to find something to encourage people about, even if it’s just a small thing. Also, I always find it interesting when I read a post and it is pretty much the same thing I was reading the night before. It makes my ears perk up and I pay attention what Holy Spirit is telling me. That’s what happened when I read this earlier today. I was reading John Eldredge’s latest book, Beautiful Outlaw. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.
Thanks Gigi. I guess I need to pick up that book.
Thanks PM !
I’ve heard this taught as the phrase “ears to hear” meaning we need to be teachable, but as an admonition to those stalking Him, trying to catch Him in his words to kill him ! … hadn’t crossed my mind and haven’t heard it preached at all.
Nice revelation, a Heavy Revvy dude 🙂
Expectations have a dangerous way of clouding our judgment. I was told to look for a certain item on a table and because it didn’t look like I expected it to look like I looked right at it and never “saw” it. Same with “hearing”. Thank you Mr. Dave for your insight.
thanks for sharing this, i never knew what that scripture really meant, other than the obvious. your words really made it simple to understand and i thank you for that, i need “simple” 🙂 i’m checking myself now and for the future, to not critique who i’m listening to…it’s amazing how deceptive words can be and never realize they’re brainwashing you..wow…great post, thanks PM 🙂
Even the disciples didn’t hear what Jesus was saying at times. He told them plainly he was to be killed and Peter rebuked him because it didn’t line up with what his pre conceived idea of how things were to go. Holy Spirit give us ears to hear!!
This is so important reminder
Love you PM!! It’s so easy to find fault when that filter is set to criticize. If we allow Holy Spirit to be our filter He will give us discernment. I believe a word to encourage someone every day would change the atmosphere and change me also!!
One difficulty is that the New Testament writers seem uniquely concerned with discerning false teaching.
As for the pharisees, they heard the law but not the speaker. For instance, a good bit of the Mosaic law comes from decisions in individual cases where God told Moses the judgment. When I realized this, I realized how wise and just and kind God is. I learned a lot about His personality from how He decided those cases.
The pharisees saw the law as a technical apparatus, a machine for making them righteous. When they challenged Jesus, they sought a technical fix. If we’re wrong, they said, tell us which lever we should be pulling. They didn’t get it, that righteousness doesn’t come from the law but rather through relationship. And there he was, standing right in front of them.
I guess a point then is how to discern false teaching while seeking to understand. As another commentor noted, I tend to trust my spirit more now than my ears. These days I get a particular bad feeling that serves as a warning. Then I start being cautious. Even then, I try to take the good and leave the bad.
For instance, I listened through a 7 part series on youtube of a teacher. Despite getting that bad feeling, I perservered till he started talking about reptilians and nephtalim and alien greys out to get our dna, based out of supernatural info he’d garnered while travelling in the spirit. And this guy came highly recommended by someone I trust.
Now, is it posssible the speaker was right and that I should try to understand? Maybe. But meanwhile, big klaxons were going off in my spirit… Although he had some good points earlier in the series, I had to work hard to filter good from bad. And the oppressive spirit that followed the videos has been hard to shake.
When you step out on the edge of these spiritual things, we gotta be careful and super discerning.
I played your interview/discussion on the Dan Duval podcast for my dad who was in bed, having another bad day. He has suffered over a decade of a degraded quality of health and life after undergoing lumbar fusion at 2 levels which was supposed to make him better, not worse. Im heartbroken as Ive watched my dad go from a man with above average level of health, fitness and clean living who never took more than 2 excederins for back pain to a chronic patient living in chronic pain taking chronic pain meds and now multiple other medications. After becoming frustrated to the point of anger when he asked my thoughts on his “new” and unbearable pain, I concluded that his pain no longer made any sense, and I played your interview.
I got sad when he lost interest after saying that your stories sounded “too good to be true”. I can’t do what you do yet, PM,, but I want to learn so I can stop talking and speak healing and life and health.
Thank you for being a beacon of hope.
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