Learning to Listen

Learning to Listen (Matthew 13:1-23)

Dad called me to come in for supper. I heard him, but I was playing outside. Then he appeared at the door and asked, “Son, didn’t you hear me calling you for supper?” I said, “Yeah, I heard you Dad, but I wasn’t listening.” It was only a matter of seconds till I learned there is a difference between hearing and listening.

Jesus understood that and carefully chose his speech for those who would listen. Jesus did not invent parables, he magnified and transformed them by the way he used them. His word pictures were understandable, if you were listening.

The unassuming, story about dirt and seed would reveal powerful spiritual meaning for those who would listen.

The listeners got it. The stubborn missed it and would reject both the message and messenger.

The image Jesus depicted in this story was not complicated. It was about God’s Word (seed) and people who needed that Word (soil).

The seed was good. The topsoil ( mankind was made from dust of the ground.)

The application is this: People reproduce the Word of God in direct relation to the kind of soil they are.

“Along the path” (vv. 4 and 19)

Jesus described this soil as unable and unready to receive the seed because it was so hard. Good seed simply lay there, until birds came and ate them. Jesus explained that this personal soil did not understand his words and so the devil took the words away.

This uncultivated soil was not capable of growing the seed, and it was snatched away. The devil doesn’t care what he uses as long as he can prevent an understanding of truth.

Sometimes this enemy uses what others are doing in the group you join . . . talking, playing, making noise, etc., so that you will neither hear nor understand Jesus’ words.

“On rocky places” (vv. 5 and 20)

This soil is shallow, but like grass growing in cracks of a sidewalk, the seed grows quickly. Unlike grass, it withers because it has not developed a root.

When life is like this, the seed is received with joy and enthusiasm but without more than shallow emotion. The expectation is that once the word enters, problems should be eliminated. Confusion results when the first problem or trouble comes, because the emotion is also changed.

How many young Christians have dropped away from fellowship when the first trouble came? They falsely conclude: “If that is how God treats us, we don’t want to have anything to do with him.”

“Fell among the thorns” (vv. 7 and 22)

The good earth is contaminated with weed seeds. Jesus identified the weeds that choke out the effective growth of his Word. The weeds are: “worries of this life . . . deceitfulness of wealth.” Luke’s Gospel adds “pleasures” (Luke 8:14).

The very things that will contaminate the production of a bountiful crop are the cares we have about things. The deceit of wealth, which chokes out the good seed, includes personal vanity, pride, ambition, power, and quest for status. Even friends say we ought to have “fun.”

On good soil (v. 8 and 23)

Fertile, soil produces more than what was planted. For the listener. God’s Word has the powerful potential to produce a harvest if that word is allowed to take root and grow.

Now comes the difficult application. Lack of faith, unbelief, or spiritual growth cannot be blamed on the speaker unless he or she fails to deliver God’s good seed (his Word).

The responsibility for hearing and listening rests on the listener not the speaker.

How can this listening be improved? Begin by praying for the speaker and for your own listening.

Prepare yourself to listen by expecting to be inspired and challenged.

Then, review your notes and read Scriptures, allow God’s good “seed” to grow.

The result could be a bountiful harvest of God’s Word multiplying in your life so that you never say…

“I heard you Father, but I wasn’t listening.”

evesadam

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