02/08/S – Hear, Listen, Understand, Receive, Do

Genesis 40:1-41:16; Matthew 13:10-23; Psalms 18:1-3; Proverbs 8:12-13

NT: “Then the disciples came up and asked him, “Why are you speaking to them in parables?” “…That is why I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand… For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn back — and I would heal them. Blessed are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see but didn’t see them, to hear the things you hear but didn’t hear them. So listen to the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path. And the one sown on rocky ground — this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. But he has no root and is short-lived. When distress or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away. Now the one sown among the thorns — this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But the one sown on the good ground — this is one who hears and understands the word, who does produce fruit and yields: some a hundred, some sixty, some thirty times what was sown.”” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:10, 13, 15-23‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

The disciples asked Jesus why He spoke in parables. He replied that it was because the people would not listen to plain truth. Their hearts had grown callous, their ears had lost sensitivity, and their eyes were shut. That sounds similar to people in our day. There has been so much “truth” thrown at people that they have lost the ability to discern what the actual truth really is. So much of what we hear is what we want to hear. We can easily customize what we hear to things that align with our own belief system and confirm our own biases, while canceling anything that challenges our beliefs. Jesus knew that if He wrapped truth into parables, He wouldn’t be immediately “cancelled” and those who truly desired to know the truth would investigate further. He then went on to explain the parable of the sower, which explains what happens when people hear the truth of the Kingdom of God. Some have the truth snatched away before they even have the chance to listen. Others may listen and think the truth is great, but their hearts are so hardened that the truth can never get rooted in their lives. As soon as challenges come, the truth they accepted gets abandoned for self-reliance. Then there are some in whom the truth actually takes root and begins to grow, but the truth wasn’t given priority, so it gets choked out by those things which were given priority in their lives. Finally, there are the few who receive the truth, allow it to take root in their lives, and give it priority – cultivating it and feeding it. It is in those people where the truth fully matures and bears fruit… and is able to multiply. Do I know what I am listening for? Do I know what I am listening to? Am I just listening to the things that titillate my desires and encourage my own self-interests, or am I seeking out the truth of the kingdom, no matter how it may “offend” my desires and self-made categories? Do I just agree with it, or do I actually heed it and allow it to take root in my life and produce fruit?

Psalms: “I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭18:1-3‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

The context for this psalm is it was written on the day that all of David’s enemies were finally vanquished. King David was someone who truly treasured the words of God. It was because he didn’t just hear the words of God but fully heeded the words of God, that God was able to fully bless David and deliver him from all who opposed the work of the Lord in his life.

Proverbs: “To fear the Lord is to hate evil. I hate arrogant pride, evil conduct, and perverse speech.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭8:13‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Hating evil isn’t a prerequisite for fearing the Lord. Truly fearing the Lord develops in you a hatred for evil – for the Lord hates evil. Fearing the Lord involves fully honoring and respecting who the Lord is, His words, His will, and His ways. When we hear God’s words and give them the honor and respect they deserve, and order our lives around them, then we will grow to love the things that the Lord loves and hate the things that the Lord hates. Do you want to be delivered from arrogance and pride? Fear the Lord, and you will grow to hate arrogance and pride because the Lord hates arrogance and pride. Do you want to be delivered from evil conduct? Fear the Lord and you will hate doing evil, because the Lord hates it when people do evil. It goes on and on. Hear, listen, understand, receive, and do the words of the Lord and you will produce life and not evil.

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