Are You Listening?
November 18, 2018 | Randy Smith
Are You Listening?
Sunday, November 18, 2018
Pastor Randy Smith
See if you can guess what I am talking about.
There is a trait that makes people very attractive. Actually the trait is essential if we wish to have a meaningful relationship with another individual. When we do this, other people feel special and important. And when we do this we demonstrate the godly fruits of self-control, patience and love. We can always improve, but the good news is that this is a trait that all people can accomplish. It’s something that requires minimal effort. And this trait is listening.
There is a lot of information in our society on how to be a good speaker. There is very little emphasis on how to be a good listener. Listening communicates we care about what another is saying – that’s love. Listening demonstrates we always have more to learn – that’s humility. Listening is an indispensable component toward a successful life.
The art of successful listening: Eye contact, minimized distractions, focus of attention, appropriate body language, clarifying and summarizing questions, not interrupting and notetaking if applicable.
The Bible has a lot to say about listening. “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak” (Jas. 1:19). “There is an appointed time for everything… A time to be silent and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:1, 7). Even in last week’s sermon we read in 8:8 that Jesus would continually call out during His teaching, “He who has ears to hear, let Him hear.” Hearing was all over that section: “Hear” (verse 8 (2x’s), verse 13), “Hearing” (verse 10) and “Heard” (verses 12, 14 and 15).
Today I would like to look at verses 16-21. They seem like random disjointed verses, but as I read through these verses I discover a common theme. Verse 18, “So take care how you listen.” Verse 21, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God.” Again, listening!
This morning, with our limited time I would like to look at the topic of listening to God’s Words. And throughout the sermon (reflected in the sub-points) I will also show you how you can know you are truly listening to God’s Words. The title reflects the main point. “Are You Listening?”
So how do I know if I am listening to God’s Words? Very simple! I will hear what He says and I will do it! That was last week’s sermon about the true Christian, “the good soil,” producing much spiritual fruit and that is seen in today’s sermon in verse 21 too. The main point – “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” Let’s now support that with the four sub-points.
True Listeners Will Live Reflectively (verse 16)
First sub-point, “True Listeners will Live Reflectively.” What I mean by that is we will be a mirror. Jesus Christ will be reflected through our lives to others. So the first of four tests – if you are a good listener, you will show Christ to others through your words and actions.
Look at verse 16. “Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light.”
Here we are given another parable – an earthly story with a spiritual meaning. Again, it is very simple to understand. Back then there was no electricity. Lighting would have consisted of a controlled fire in a container, similar to a candle today. It goes without saying that no one lights a lamp wanting light and then covers it with a container. You don’t place it under a bed either. Rather you put the lamp on a lampstand so it might serve its greatest function.
So what does this mean from a spiritual perspective?
If you are truly in Christ the “Light of the World” dwells within you. It is commanded of us to let the light of Christ shine through us to others. As we have been illuminated by Christ , we are commanded to illuminate others. To not do so would equate with the absurdity of lighting a lamp and placing a under a bowl or in today’s understanding, turning on a light for night reading and then removing the bulb. It’s foolish. It’s senseless. It’s without purpose.
Philippians 2:15-16, “So that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.” Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world.” Ephesians 5:8, “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord.”
The bottom line is this: those who truly hear Christ’s Word will obey Christ’s Word. And those who obey Christ’s Word will progressively become more like Christ. And those who become more like Christ will show Christ to others by their actions. And of course the actions are essential to show Christ, but we must also speak Christ if others are to be saved. If we have received salvation in Christ, but care not to share the message of salvation in Christ with others it only says we either don’t believe the message ourselves or don’t love others enough to care about their eternal destiny.
True disciples who hear Christ’s Words will bear fruit. One of those fruits is to let the light of Christ in us spread to others around us through our words and actions.
That is our purpose. Don’t put a container over the light. 1 Peter 2:9, “You are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
True Listeners Will Live Securely (verse 17)
Second, true listeners of God’s Word will live securely. Look at verse 17. “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”
This verse is talking about the insecurity of hypocrisy. Last week we learned that soil 1 will outright reject God’s Word. But we also learned that soils 2 and 3 will appear to receive God’s Word, but never with all of their hearts as to be saved. They might attend a church, serve in ministry and be baptized, but never truly be a Christian. Their hearts were never changed and their supposed Christian actions come from a heart that is faking it or greatly deceived. They are phonies. Although everyone, including themselves might think they are part of God’s family. They might call themselves a Christian, but they are not.
I was thinking about my role playing the Puritan writer John Bunyan at this year’s Harvest Festival. Just because I tried to look, talk and dress like John Bunyan, does not mean I am John Bunyan. And even if people seeing me clueless about church history think I was the actual John Bunyan it doesn’t mean I was John Bunyan of the 1600’s.
Jesus taught there will be many professing Christians that are not saved (Mt. 7:22-23). Often these folks fall away in time just like the second and third soils. In John 6 we read, “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore” (Jn. 6:66). Yet some of these phony imposters will live like this until they die. And while they might have spent their entire life fooling everyone, possibly even themselves (verse 17), they won’t fool the Lord on Judgment Day who truly knows the heart. Verse 17, on that day everything will “become evident” and all things will be “known and come to light” (cf. 1 Cor. 4:5).
Two chapters earlier in Luke our Lord said, “Why do you call Me , ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Lk. 6:46). And what followed that? “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house…and laid a foundation on the rock” (Lk. 6:47-48).
You want to live securely? You want to be assured of your eternal destiny? Very simple! Do you really hear Christ’s words in the Bible and do you follow them with a “good heart” (verse 15)?
True Listeners Will Live Fruitfully (verse 18)
A third test of listening is that true believers will bear spiritual fruit. Last week it was very clear that the only plants that grew were from the fourth or “good soil” and evidence that they were good plants was seen in the production of fruit.
Review from last week – is there spiritual fruit in your life that gives evidence that God is working through you? Are you hearing God’s word and applying it? As the point says, are you living fruitfully?
Look at verse 18. “So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks [key word!] he has shall be taken away from him.”
What does that mean?
It’s basically what we’ve been covering. True hearers listen and apply God’s Word and therefore they will bear much spiritual fruit – 100 fold (verse 8). It is legitimate fruit that God produces among them. They keep increasing in the fruit production.
Yet the imposter, the hypocrites, they too appear to produce fruit. But their fruit is not legitimate. It is only in their mind (“thinks” – verse 18). It’s not of God. It is synthetic, artificial, man-made fruit that they simply tie to the branches. Eventually, that garbage will be cleared from the braches. Their fake fruit will be taken away.
Let me see if I can give you an illustration. So I’ve got this YouTube channel called “Americas Parks.” On it I have almost 200 videos of National Park adventures. The popularity is far beyond my expectations. My total views and subscribers are a product of legitimate people who enjoy my work. True fruit. Yet I have learned that for many people, their YouTube channel becomes their identity. To them, success in life is determined by their view and subscriber count. They will buy subscribers. They will leave their videos on “auto-play” to rack up views.
Yet the YouTube system is crazy smart. Within time it will find those bogus subscribers and bogus views and remove them. Then the system might penalize them. It might not honor them by suggesting their videos. They might also get a copyright strike. Perhaps their channel will be cancelled.
Do it the right way – legitimate fruit that will increase. Do it the wrong way – fake fruit that will be taken away. The same applies with God.
True Listeners Will Live Obediently (verses 19–21)
So non-listeners do not share Christ to produce fruit in others. Their hypocrisy in being a fruitless-weed will be revealed. Their false fruit will be taken away. And finally, they will show they never had any desire to bear fruit in the first place because they cared very little about obeying God’s word.
Verses 19-21. “And His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd. And it was reported to Him, ‘Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You.’ But He answered and said to them, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
Last week regarding the four soils we learned the first soil (verse 12) are those who “heard” the Word of God. The second soil (verse 13) are those who “hear” the Word of God. The third soil (verse 14) are those who “heard” the Word of God. For all of these soils there was no results . They all heard the Word of God, but there were no results. The fourth soil also (verse 15) “heard” the Word of God with what? “An honest and good heart.” They “held fast” to the Word of God. And as a result they produced “fruit.” According to the parable, only the person who bears spiritual fruit can claim to be a believer.
I recall James 1:22. “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”
Our Lord’s family couldn’t get in to see Him (verse 19) “because of the crowd.” Word was brought to Jesus (verse 20). What did He say? Verse 21, His true family are those who “hear the Word of God and do it.”
Your attitude toward God is directly seen in your attitude toward His Word, the Bible. You cannot have a relationship with someone without listening. Do you have a relationship with God? Are you listening to His Word? If you truly are, there will be evidence of reproductive and growing and genuine and healthy spiritual fruit in your life.