We can see this concerning John the Baptist in Matthew 11:15, in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:9, in HIS explanation of the parable of the tares in Matthew 13:43 and so on throughout Scripture we are told to "Listen Up. Pay Attention!"
In JESUS’ letters to the churches of Asia, HE concludes each one with a similar saying: "he who has an ear, let him hear what The SPIRIT says to the churches." (Rev.2:7, 11, 17, 29 & 3:6, 13 and 22)
But what's the point of these sayings? That is the easy question; they are equivalent to saying "What is being said is very important, so you had better pay attention and listen up!"
Mark 4:23-25 also illustrates that JESUS had the same problem then that often exists today, that many people simply don't listen or they don't listen so as to understand.
I'm convinced that many people today don't appreciate the importance of listening well. It certainly concerned JESUS, and so I believe it should certainly concern each one of us as well. I find it is appropriate to ask, "how well do we listen?"
There are three types of listeners I wish to discuss this morning. One type of listener is the "dull of hearing". In Hebrews 5:11 we learn that some of the Hebrew Christians were like this. And when someone has this problem, of being “dull of hearing” it is very difficult for others to explain things to them.
The fault is not with the topic and it is not with the messenger, but with the listener only. Isaiah wrote of such people (Isaiah 6:9-10) and if we go to the book of Matthew, Chapter 13, we see that starting at verse 13 JESUS applied it to many in HIS day as well.
So, people are this way because they are dull of heart! This prevents them from understanding GOD'S Truth, it prevents them from turning from sin to GOD and from being healed, or saved, by GOD!
Another type of listener is those with "itching ears". Paul describes these people in 2Timothy 4:3-4. Such people listen only to that which is pleasing. So they don't like "sound doctrine" which often requires the kind of preaching mentioned in verse 2 of 2Timothy 4, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
The ones with itching ears will find the teachers they want to listen to, the ones that preach sermons that “feel good” to them or fit in with their own idea of who or what "their god" is. Too many today suffer from this "hearing" problem!
And the third type of listener is the ones who hear with "a noble and good heart." JESUS speaks of these listeners in Luke 8:15 when HE says, “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience."
The Bereans were listeners of this kind. In Acts 17 it says that they “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” They were "fair-minded", thus willing to give Paul a fair hearing. It showed how they "received" (or listened to) The Word "with all readiness".
And this is the kind of listener we all should be! Actually, this is the kind of listener that we all must be if we are to be Children of GOD.
But why is it so important to be the type of listener with "a noble and good heart"?? The importance of good listening is essential to being Blessed.
For those willing to listen properly, there are wonderful things to learn. In Matthew 13:16-17 JESUS says, “16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."
JESUS is saying that we have the opportunity to hear many things which some great people (David, Daniel, Isaiah, etc.) did not have the opportunity to learn. Things pertaining to wonderful Blessings that are now available in HIM (Ephesians 1:3)!!
And we will miss out on these Blessings if we do not carefully listen, and pay attention! And then there is "saving Faith!"
Such Faith comes through proclaiming The Gospel, which often involves listening to a preacher (Romans 10:14, 17). And while one can certainly gain Faith through reading GOD'S Word (John 20:30-31), the fact remains that many are often dependent upon what they first hear proclaimed.
Faith is often lacking because people simply are not good listeners. They miss out on the evidence in GOD'S Word which produces Amazing Faith!
Does our "listening" hinder the development of our Faith?
In the parable of the sower, the only kind of soil (heart) capable of bearing fruit was the one which listened properly (Luke 8:15). That is because bearing fruit comes from "understanding" the Grace of GOD (Colossians 1:6)!
The Gospel was bearing fruit in the Colossians, but that was only since the day they heard and knew, or understood, the Grace of GOD in Truth. Only by listening well can we "understand" GOD'S Grace, and be motivated to bear fruit to HIS Glory!