May 29, 2015

Luke 6:27-28 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you.”

This is a very famous teaching of Jesus, echoing the Sermon on the Mount, but one little detail of it caught my attention just now. Jesus is addressing His remarks to “you who hear me.” God speaks to us a great deal, but much of the time we simply don’t hear Him. Jesus several times spoke of those who had “ears to hear.” (Mark 4:23, etc.) To Ezekiel the Lord spoke of people who had ears to hear but simply wouldn’t listen. (Ezekiel 12:2) Sadly, that describes far too many people today. For some, it’s like a husband who has a mental switch that turns off any time his wife starts talking. That’s a common phenomenon and is tragic enough, but it’s even worse when we turn off God. When Jesus gave John the messages for the seven churches in Revelation He said each time, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:7, etc.) That’s even one ear! There are many reasons we don’t hear God, but I think the biggest one is preoccupation with self. We’re so full of ourselves we have no room for God. How foolish is that? We make ourselves into our own little gods and so deny the Creator of the universe who loves us enough to send His Son to die for us! As long as our focus is on ourselves, our perception of what God is saying will be distorted at best. That’s perhaps the greatest benefit of true praise and worship: we focus on our Lord and Savior, caught up in His magnificence, and so open up to receive anything He wants to pour into us, be it instruction or encouragement or spiritual gifts or anything else.

I’ll never forget the time I was really wanting to hear from God and was “bombarding the gates of heaven,” so to speak, when I paused to take a breath and I heard Him say, so very clearly, “Well then, shut up.” I think I’ve gotten a little better at listening to Him since then! Even as I tell others to do, I need to be expecting Him to speak to me, with joyful anticipation. I delight to experience Him speaking through me, but I must never think that what He says is just for “the other guy.” In my morning times with Him He often gives me messages for the church, but I must always remember that I am as much a part of the church as anyone else. I need to let Him be my “audiologist,” adjusting my “spiritual hearing aid” to tune out the background noise to distinguish exactly what He is saying, with no distortion. And I need to remember that, as with physical hearing aids, if I fail to be properly connected, the feedback will be irritating rather than helpful to those around me.

Father, thank You for this Word. That illustration is interesting! Help me indeed listen to You faithfully and lead others to do the same, so that we may be the obedient children You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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