Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Are You Really Listening?

30"But as for you, son of man, your fellow citizens who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses, speak to one another, each to his brother, saying, 'Come now and hear what the message is which comes forth from the LORD.'
31"They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain.
32"Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them.
33"So when it comes to pass--as surely it will--then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst." (Ezekiel 33:30-33, NASB)

Ezekiel was careful to accurately proclaim the message that God had for the people of Israel. He proclaimed it with passion and clarity, and expressed himself eloquently. It is clearly evident in this passage that the people enjoyed listening to what Ezekiel had to say. In fact, they made a point of encouraging others to come and listen to the prophet. The people came and sat under the teaching of the prophet, yet they walked away without their hearts being changed!

In much the same way today, there are multitudes of people who flock to hear eloquent preachers, but walk away unchanged and continue on in their lifestyle just as they did before. They even give lip service to the message and comment how they liked what was said. But unfortunately, many never apply the truth that was expounded to them.

Just like in Ezekiel’s day, there are many who appear to be merely entertained by solid preaching. But the solid exposition of God’s truth is not meant to be a form of Christian entertainment. It is meant to be taken to heart and applied to effect a change on an individual’s life.

We are reminded in the New Testament in the book of James of this very thing.

22But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;
24for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.
25But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25, NASB)

We are to be doers and not merely hearers of the Word. James tells us that those who merely hear but do not put into practice what they hear, “delude” (Gr. paralogizomai) or deceive themselves.

It is imperative that we earnestly seek to apply what we hear. Once the messenger delivers the message based on God’s Truth, it is our responsibility to take heed. God holds us accountable for our response. Ezekiel knew the sobering responsibility God charged him with and if he failed to follow through, God would hold him responsible for the fate of those he failed to warn. However, once Ezekiel delivered the message God commanded him to give, the responsibility rested on the people who heard the message. (Ezekiel 3:17-21; 33:1-9)

God holds us accountable for applying His truth that has been made available to us. May we always be eager to apply what we hear to our own lives!

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