Take Care How You Hear
“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” (Luke 8:16-18)
Consider that phrase in here: “Take care then how you hear…” It’s very important to the message of Christ.
The parable concerns the idea of hiding a lamp over against putting the lamp out so that all can see the light. Nothing is hidden that will not become evident, and secret things come to light. Then Jesus says, “Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” What does Jesus mean by this?
The basic idea here is that people will manifest, through their lives, what they choose to listen to and take into their hearts, and this will come out in the way their live their lives. If we listen to the wrong people and imbibe the wrong ideas, then our lives will eventually demonstrate this, as listening and doing are clearly connected (cf. Matt. 7:24-27). We cannot, without discernment, listen to lies all the time and expect to come out living the truth. On the flip side, if we are carefully listening to truth, then our lives will show this as well.
Jesus puts it this way in another place:
“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45)
Jesus indicates that good listening skills will lead to better abilities to discern and take in truth, which becomes even more obvious to those witnessing this life. Conversely, those who fail to listen carefully will manifest failure even while thinking they are doing well. They have only fooled themselves, but their folly will be made manifest. Sometimes those who try to show themselves to be the smartest wind up playing into the hands of the devil’s agents, who deceitfully disguise themselves as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Great care must be taken. Be careful how you hear.
This extends to what and how we read or take in other forms of communication. Reading or watching news in itself does not make us noble if we are not very discerning and wise about it. There are many works not worthy of reading. Just because someone writes something means very little in itself, especially in an era of social media and blogging where anyone can say about anything. Writing something is not the same as 1) having something worthy to write about, and 2) being able to write in a way that others should want to read. One is not educated well by just reading anything, and, frankly, there is a great deal out there that is not worth the time. Words alone do not create substantive and noteworthy ideas. (Note: I write this aware that I can fall into the same trap.)
We all have a right to speak, but that right does not itself entail a right to be heard or followed. We cannot coerce others to hear us. Even this piece will find only a small readership, and some may deem it unworthy of further consideration. That is fine. Here I simply try to remind us all of the need to be very careful in what and how we listen, for, as Jesus taught, the way we listen will, in the end, come to light in the way that we are living.
James gives the same essential insight:
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (Jas 1:19-21).
Let us be careful to take in God’s message, then let us be careful in how we are walking and living out what we are taking in (Eph 5:15-17).