Listening is an important and often neglected skill. Good listeners are good friends and make good company. Listening skills are important whether you serve as a counselor, teacher, or team leader. Solomon described poor listeners as those who bring trouble upon themselves because they start forming their answer before they know the question (Proverbs 18:13).
One’s listening habits can make or break a dating or marriage relationship. They can determine whether or not you will succeed in your career or get passed over for promotion.
While listening to other people has temporal value, listening to God has eternal significance. Christ’s warning in Mark 4:24, “Pay attention to what you hear,” is a constant theme throughout Scripture, repeated throughout the Old and New Testament. All too often, Israel acted like people who had words go in one ear and out the other (Psalm 81:11-13; Isaiah 30:9).
In Mark 4:1-20, Jesus explained that how we listen to a message determines whether or not we will be fruitful. He continues that same idea in Mark 4:21-25. Using parables about lights and measures, Jesus teaches that each one is responsible for the truth we receive. We are to use the truth before we lose it.
In verses 21-23, Jesus points out a self-evident fact. A lamp is meant to be seen. Rather than place it under a basket or a bed, you place a lamp on a stand where it can give light to the house. In the same way, Jesus and the kingdom of God did not come to be hidden, but rather revealed.
Genuine disciples do not hide the truth. True disciples listen to the revelation of God’s word and then proclaim it to others.
Not only is light meant to be seen, but truth is meant to be obeyed (24-25). This section illustrates the axiom that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The more we hear the Word of God, the more we are able to share it with others. However, if we try to hoard it for ourselves, it will gradually slip through our fingers. You cannot stand still in the Christian life. If we cease to grow; then we shrink.
Throughout my educational odyssey, I took three years of Spanish in junior high and high school. I took three years of Greek and two years of Hebrew in seminary. I listened to tapes and CDs of Russian prior to several ministry trips. Can I speak or read any of those languages today? No, because I didn’t practice them. We are to use the truth before we lose it.
A church can have a beautiful facility and a dynamic purpose statement. But unless it lives out that purpose on a daily basis, it can quickly become more of a museum than a place of worship. If the church isn’t intentional about ministry, it can soon turn into a monument. We are to use the truth before we lose it.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on February 1, 2015. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.