What It Takes To Listen
Intro: The word of God is filled with verses that refer to man’s need to listen.
- Hearken: 150 times
- Hearkened: 81 times
- Hearkeneth: 2 times
- Hear: 515 times
- Heareth: 48 times
- Hearer: 2 times
- Hearing: 37
- Ear: 118 times
- Ears: 139 times
- Listen: 1
Total: 1,093 times
Jesus said many times in the Gospels: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
He said in Revelation 8 times: He that hath an ear, let him hear. (2:7, 2:11; 2:17; 2:29; 3:6; 3:13; 3:22: 13:9)
It strikes me as funny that God went from talking to people with two ears to just one!!
I have been asking myself what it takes to be a hearer; what does it take to listen?
Why do some listen and others do not?
Why do some people have a greater desire to hear what God has to say and others seem to be completely disinterested?
I. A Desire for Facts – vs. 20- 23
You’d be shocked at how many people are completely uninterested in learning.
Our text tells us that wisdom crying without; she uttereth her voice in the streets.
She crieth in the chief places of concourse; in the opening of the gates; in the city she uttereth her words.
You know what Wisdom is saying? How long ye simple ones will ye love simplicity?
She is saying: How long will the scorners delight in their scorning, and the fools hate knowledge?
Wisdom is appalled at the lack of an appetite for learning, and for knowledge and for facts and for truth!
It occurred to me that the first thing that is necessary for a person to listen is an appetite for facts.
They are not interested in emotions, or opinions, or people’s feelings, or scornful mockings: they love truth!
Illustration: Sometimes my son Stuart will check out books from the library that are nothing but books of facts.
Trivial facts about history or nature. They are fascinating. They are fascinating because they are filled with simply stated facts and tidbits of information that people have discovered.
It is amazing at how many people have no appetite for facts and for truth.
It is essential that a person have an appetite for the truth of the Word of God before they will have any desire at all to listen.
I’m afraid our attitude many times is a lot like Pilate’s in John 18:37, 38
- 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
- 38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
Truth was staring him right in the face, and he didn’t even pause long enough to see it.
He asked, “What is truth?” and then turned around and walked away from it.
The One that said, I am the way THE TRUTH, and the life was standing right in front of him, and he didn’t see it.
II. A Dislike for Failure – vs. 24-28
The simple truth is, some people simply do not mind getting it wrong.
Notice what words God uses to describe the existence of those that WILL NOT LISTEN:
- CALAMITY – vs. 26a
- FEAR – vs. 26b
- DESOLATION – vs. 27a
- DESTRUCTION – vs. 27b
- DISTRESS AND ANGUISH – vs. 27c
- THEY SHALL CALL UPON ME, BUT I WILL NOT ANSWER – vs. 28a
- THEY SHALL SEEK ME, BUT THEY SHALL NOT FIND ME – vs. 28b
- THEY HATED KNOWLEDGE – vs. 29a
- THEY DID NOT CHOOSE THE FEAR OF THE LORD – vs.29b
- THEY WOULD NONE OF MY COUNSEL – vs. 30a
- THEY DESPISED ALL MY REPROOF – vs. 30b
- THEY SHALL EAT OF THE FRUIT OF THEIR OWN WAY – vs. 31a
- THEY SHALL BE FILLED WITH THEIR OWN DEVICES – 31b
- THE TURNING AWAY OF THE SIMPLE SHALL SLAY THEM – vs. 32a
- THE PROSPERITY OF THE FOOLS SHALL DESTROY THEM – vs. 32b
…. the way of transgressors is hard. Proverbs 13:15
The thought of going through life failing repeatedly does not at all seem to bother some people.
The fact that they could live their entire life as one colossal failure doesn’t seem to concern them one bit.
The possibility of failing should motivate us.
I’ve noticed in school that some students strive to get every answer right. They want to make 100 on every test.
Others don’t seem to care if they get the answer wrong.
When I was in school, I hated to get a big red X next to my answer.
It bothered me to raise my hand and answer a question and get it wrong.
It bothers me as a Christian when I mess up.
It bothers me as a husband when I do something that hurts my marriage.
It bothers me as a dad when I make a decision that has a negative effect on my children.
The thought of getting it wrong as a pastor and as a leader really bothers me.
What is shocking is how many people do not mind a life of failures and have no interest in learning how to get it right!
There are two possible statements for a person to hear when they stand before God at the judgment:
- Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many. (Matthew 25:21, 23)
- Depart from me, ye that work iniquity, I never knew you! (Matt. 7:23)
I can’t speak for you, but honestly that last option is the LAST THING I WANT TO HEAR!
I can’t imagine living my whole life, and then hearing that!
No matter how popular you were, if that is what you hear, you were a failure!
No matter how successful you were, if that is what God says to you at the judgment, you were a failure!
No matter how much money you have, if you hear that, you failed!
If there is anything that motivates me to listen to the voice of God, it is my sincere desire to NOT FAIL!
III. A Desire for Favor – Proverbs 1:33; Proverbs 2:1-22,
See Proverbs 3:1-4
- 1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
- 2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
- 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
- 4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
I don’t know about you, but I want God to smile upon me!
I want God’s hand upon my life.
I want to be a recipient of God’s blessings.
- Notice chapter 1 verse 33 – But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely…
That sure beats that long list of troubles that will befall those that don’t listen! (Prov. 1:26-33)
That sure is better than a life of destruction and fear and calamity and desolation!
- Notice the end of the chapter – and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
NOTE: It doesn’t say they will be quiet from evil. It says they shall be quiet from the FEAR OF EVIL.
Meaning – they don’t have to live their life dreading failure and trouble.
They can live their life in peace and confidence – knowing they will not experience failure and trouble.
ALL BECAUSE THEY LISTENED!!!!
All because they inclined their ear unto the voice of God.
Simply because they listened to the Word and to truth!
See Proverbs 2:1-4
- 1 ¶ My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
- 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
- 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
- 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
- 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
Conclusion: What about you? Do you listen?
See Proverbs 2:6–11
- 6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
- 7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
- 8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
- 9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
- 10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
- 11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: