Test. Test one, two. Test, test one. Test, one, two. Can you hear me? How ‘bout now? How’s your hearing, your spiritual hearing that is? It’s not just a matter of if you can hear or not, but it’s how you hear as well. Check this out: “And he said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’” (Mark 4:24, 25 ESV) So often when we hear Mark 4 preached or taught, it centers on the four types of soil and the preacher asks, “Now what kind of soil are you?” I do believe that’s a valid teaching, but I think there’s a little more to it than that. I think part of what Jesus is saying to his disciples is an exhortation to effective hearing. How’s this for a cool catch phrase? Jesus is teaching us to: “Develop Kingdom Ears.”
If you read Mark 4 in its entirety, you find that Jesus refers to his disciples as “insiders” who have been given the mystery of the kingdom of God. Jesus had just spent the day teaching the crowd with parables, but now, alone with his followers; he is speaking plainly. Because of our proximity to Jesus, we are able to hear him speak regularly. By his Word, by the Spirit, through our brothers and sisters, we are hearing God (or should be) speak to us. But the question is how we are hearing. What “measure” are we using? The context of Mark 4 gives us a couple of indicators we can use to help figure out if our hearing is okay.
First, someone that’s hearing properly will be a light to those around him. “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.” (Mark 4:21, 22 ESV) A person with Kingdom Ears (I kind of like that) isn’t just sitting at home thinking deep spiritual thoughts, but is regularly sharing with others what he has heard from the Lord. You are the light of the world, and if you are really hearing from God, you will be shining, bringing revelation into those around you.
Second, the effective listener lives the lifestyle of a “seed planter.” It just comes natural. “And he said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’”(Mark 4:26-29 ESV) Like Jesus who sat in a boat that day and threw “seed” out on all kind of soil, the disciple with Kingdom Ears will be one who, as a natural way of life, scatters seed all over the place, leaving the outcome to God.
Jesus promises that if we will pay close attention to what we hear, if we will shine and scatter seed as a way of life, we will receive more. More understanding, closer intimacy, more seed, and more light! However, if we are only casually listening, we may actually not be hearing at all, and are at risk of losing what we thought we had to begin with. In light of what we’ve talked about today, I’ll ask you again, “How’s your hearing?”