“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means. When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matt 13:18-23)
In the parable of the sower, Jesus demonstrated there is much more to hearing than being able to register the presence of sounds. There are difference levels of hearing, ranging from near deafness to perfect clarity. Along the way are some things that impair our ability to hear God in the way that leads to responding to what He’s saying in the way He intends. In the end, a message is only really heard if it’s understood and acted on.
So what impairs our hearing?
Impatience is a major impairment. This begins with not doing any preparation to hear from God – the soil along the path is hard and unworked. When God’s Word isn’t immediately clear and instantly understood, impatience gives Satan the ideal opening to convince the hearer they’ll never be able to understand it, so the best thing is to give up. Expecting quick and easy answers is as unrealistic in Scripture as it is in life.
Insecurity is the second impairment Jesus highlights. The person suffering from this impairment likes the idea of salvation, but isn’t sure they want to put down roots in it. They’re willing to give God a try if they can get something out of it, but if anything goes wrong, they conclude that God doesn’t care. As soon as friends or family or colleagues give them a hard time about faith, they decide it’s too hard to swim against the current. Their sense of value comes from the opinions of others rather than from the price Jesus paid for them. They’re unable to hear God’s love for them because their ears are so attuned to the voices of others.
Immaturity is a barrier that keeps some from hearing well. They manage to hear the Word of God, but it doesn’t translate into their daily lives. They have a box for God’s Word stored away in case they might need it, but their thoughts and practices are still in the world and centred around themselves. So they worry instead of trusting God, and their desires are for more of what the world offers than what God does. They get older, but they don’t fully mature.
Jesus says that those who don’t have these impairments are those who hear the Word and put into practice.
- They do the spadework necessary to hear well, and keep working the ground in order to retain what they hear.
- They use God’s Word to re-train themselves from doing things the world’s way to obeying God.
- They have the maturity to refrain from throwing in the towel when the going gets tough.
As a result, these hearers and doers reap the rewards of God’s kingdom for both themselves and others. Their perseverance results in a substantial crop of the only kind that ultimately matters.
Next: Hearing Aids