Be Careful How You Listen

“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a bowl or hids it under a bed. Instead, the person puts it on a lampstand so those who come in will see the light” (Luke 8:16 NCV).

Many of us have heard these words of Jesus from our youth. We have sang, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” It has been paired with the thoughts of being the salt and light of the world, and to be a light unto dark places.

But this verse is one slice of a greater message. While these are true statements and are implied and connected to these words from our Savior, they are part of something different.

Jesus is explaining the parable of the seeds. This parable describes the condition of different areas where the seed – the message of the Gospel – is scattered.

Seed, as a general rule, is placed in the care of a planter. A wise planter prepares the place for the seeds to be set within. He then cares for the seed regularly, continually ensuring that the conditions remain ideal for the health and growth of the seed.

In the parable, though, the seed is scattered. It falls here and there, almost as if the planter is careless with it. Of course, the planter is not randomly tossing the seed into the wind, but he does not pick it up, either. It is intended “for whosoever will,” and so he continues on with his work.

Notice that at no time is the planter scolded or judged for “losing” some seed to places outside of the fertile field. In fact, it seems to be the fault of the ground itself, where the seed has fallen to, that the seed does not grow.

Verse 18 tells us that we must be careful how we listen or hear. This verse actually follows the verse about lighting a lamp for others to see, and it throws us back to verse 15:

“And the seed that fell on the good ground is like those who hear God’s teaching with good, honest hearts and obey it and patiently produce good fruit.”

Here we stand at the edge of another weekend, and Sunday will be here before we know it. Have you considered how you will listen to the word of God delivered to you? Have you prepared yourself to listen with a good and honest heart, intending to obey God’s word for you?

As Jesus unfolds the meaning of the parable, it is plain that all heard the teaching, but it was received or acted upon differently by the various groups of people.

  • Some heard but had the word ripped from their hearts by Satan.
  • Others heard and accepted it at a surface level, but they gave up on it when trials came into their lives.
  • Then there were some who heard but let worries, riches and other earthly cares keep from them from growing.
  • Finally were those who heard and obeyed, verse 15 above.

As Jesus unfolds the meaning of the parable, it is plain that all heard the teaching, but it was received or acted upon differently by the various groups of people.

You see there is a correlation between how we listen and our light. The light that burns brightest and furthest is the one that hears and obeys and bears fruit. The light of those who hear but – for whatever reason – turn from the word, is dull and dying, and is useless in the dark.

How can you tell if a light is bright or dead? Think of a lighthouse. How much light does it have to give during the day? The sun is out and, unless there is a thick fog, you can see what is around you. You don’t always need a lighthouse in the day. But in the darkness, you need the warning of the lighthouse as quickly and strongly as you can get it.

If the light is dull, a ship might think it is far from danger because of the effectiveness of other lighthouses. It soon crashes and wrecks because the light was not effective. But a bright light will warn of danger long before the ship draws close to it.

“So be careful how you listen.” Your light and its effectiveness are connected to how you will receive and respond to the word of God in your life.

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