The value of hearing and doing
During a Bible study at church we discussed the value of hearing. Good responses were given regarding the benefits of physical hearing, which helped us focus on the importance of being able to hear spiritually what God desires to speak to our hearts. After church a gentleman, who has difficulty hearing even with the help of hearing aids, shared something that he misses due to his poor hearing: the singing of birds. I have never given much thought to what a pleasure and blessing it is to be able to experience that part of nature. The ability to hear affects many parts of our lives.
Then on the other end of the spectrum, there are those situations in which the ability to hear is fine, but the willingness to act on what is heard is lacking. The classic case of “going in one ear and out the other” is demonstrated in our lives more often than we would like to admit.
When I got home from work one day, I could see in Addyson’s eyes that she was worn out from being at school all day. She was behaving a little cranky, but it was tolerable. However, when her Nana instructed her to pick up a school folder that she had thrown in the floor, the standoff was on. She could hear just fine as Gale sternly commanded her to do as she was told, but she chose not to respond properly. As she squirmed around on the floor with a defiant look on her face, there was no way Gale and I would ignore the situation and let her have her way. After the exercise of some loving but stern discipline, she finally complied and everything was fine. It would have been much quicker, easier, and less dramatic if we had simply picked up what she had thrown in the floor ourselves, but that would have been unfair to Addy and irresponsible on our part. She needed to learn the importance of hearing and obeying those in authority over her, and we had the responsibility of helping to teach her the value of obedience.
The little episode just mentioned took place several years ago when Addy was about four. She has grown a lot since then and she has learned some things about listening and obeying. That does not mean she has it down to perfection—she has more to learn just like we all do. But the good thing is that we can learn to be better listeners and better doers of what we are supposed to do. This is especially important when it comes to hearing God’s instructions and following them.
In the Book of John these words of Christ are preserved for us: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (5:24, New International Version).
In His day, many were hearing the words of Christ with their physical ears yet failing to apply His words to their lives; they were hearing but not believing, thus missing out on what He desired for them to experience personally. If they would hear and believe His words they could know a new life through faith that would move them from the deadness of the sinful life to the vibrancy of spiritual life. Christ gave those of His day the opportunity to hear Him, and either believe what He said and experience eternal life, or to reject His message and experience eternal condemnation. He offers us those same choices today.
The ability to hear the singing of birds is a wonderful gift that we should not take for granted. The opportunity to hear and act upon the Word of God is an even greater gift which we cannot afford to reject. May we all keep our spiritual ears open and our hearts willing to obey all of God’s instructions.