GCV Blog

How to Hear (Part 1)

We do a lot of listening. It’s an integral part of our Christian lives to listen to sermons, as well as to other Christians speaking into our lives personally. So it’s also a constant challenge to actually hear the way God intends us to. In this crucial discipline of hearing, God has not left us without instruction. James 1:19-25 continues to shape my thinking about how I hear, and I’d like to encourage you to consider it too.

James begins with an emphatic attention-getter to his beloved brothers: “Know this.” Here are some commands we need to keep in mind when it comes to hearing. First, every one of us should be quick to hear. We should all have a ready eagerness every time we get a chance to hear God’s Word. If it were a race, we should be quickest to hear instead of to speak. That’s the second attitude James commands. We should not be in a rush to speak and share God’s Word, but rather prioritize hearing. In the Church, there can be an overly high estimation of the teacher, when in reality James puts the value on listening. The final attitude James commands is slowness to anger. When we don’t understand God’s Word or we don’t like what it says, we must be careful to guard against a frustrated and reactionary sense of anger.

Because our anger could never work God’s righteousness, James further tells us to hear by putting away sin and receiving the implanted word with meekness. Our sin will actively muffle our ability to hear. So if we’re going to be good hearers, we must be holy. There should be a welcome mat at the door of our hearts for the Word. So here are some questions to analyze how well you are hearing.

How do you get ready to receive the Word before you read it in private or hear it in public?

What is the difference between a Berean and a critic? Have you possibly confused slow-to-hear and quick-to-speak and quick-to-anger attitudes as more noble? How can you work harder to receive the Word? Does your Saturday night and Sunday morning routine help or hurt your listening on Sunday?

One commentator wrote, “Listening is the art of closing one’s mouth and opening one’s ears and heart.” May God give us grace to hear biblically.

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