February 01, 2017

How Are You Listening?

Luke 8:4-9

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.

—  Luke 8:9

When I was growing up, our family often discussed the sermon after a Sunday worship service. One of our parents usually asked a question like “What did you think of the pastor’s message?” The same question is still asked in many homes today. This is important because we gather for worship to hear what the Lord has to say to us.

Now, here’s an equally important question: “How were the listeners this morning—did they listen well?” According to the Lord Jesus, listening is crucially important: “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Or, as Jesus says after telling another parable, “Consider carefully how you listen” (Luke 8:18).

Listening to God’s Word is a tremendous privilege, but it’s also a great responsibility. And someday you and I as hearers of God’s Word will have to give account for how we have listened and what we have done with what we have heard.

Listening can be difficult. After preaching for almost 50 years, I am discovering that listening is often more difficult than teaching or preaching. Again and again I find myself critiquing and even criticizing what I have heard instead of asking, “What did I hear the Lord say to me? How will it affect my life? What am I going to do about what I have heard?” That’s what really matters. In the words of the apostle James, we must become doers of God’s Word as well as hearers (James 1:22).

Holy Spirit, teach us how to listen, and help us to become doers of your Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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