How Do You Hear?

In our Word of God series, I started by reminding you that everything you reap in your life starts as a seed. As we read in Mark 4 and Luke 8, both disciples record some remarkable insights regarding how our hearts bear witness to the seeds planted in our lives.

In Luke 8:16-18 Jesus says,

16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”

Many people have wrongly used this verse to condemn people who are struggling with sin, suggesting that the fear of one’s sins being exposed, will convince people to stop sinning.

Thankfully, the idea of exposing sin, is nowhere mentioned in this parable.  So if Jesus isn’t talking about our sins being laid bare, what exactly is he saying?

Remember, the parable Jesus just illustrated was about planting the “seed,” (a.k.a. the word of God) in your heart[1]. He instructed his disciples that the condition of the heart is what determines the harvest we will gain from God’s word.

So, when Jesus concludes this parable with idea that everything will be brought out into the open, what he is saying is that every word, thought, idea, and perspective that has been planted in your heart will eventually be disclosed and brought into light.

How? Because every seed reproduces after its own kind[2]. Eventually, the thoughts, attitudes and beliefs of our heart will be brought to light, because they will manifest in our actions and decisions regarding life. The beliefs of our heart are what guide and give source, energy and movement to our actions.  No matter how hard we try to change, or be the kind of person we think others want us to be, our actions will always be a by-product of what we believe.

James illustrates this point further in James chapter 2. He writes,

17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead…22 You see that his (Abraham’s) faith and his actions were working together,…”

Another way to describe what James is saying, is that “faith without corresponding action, is really no faith at all.” In other words, your actions will bear witness to what you truly believe.

For example, if Jesus did not truly believe he was God’s son, would he have acted the way he did, or done the things which eventually led him to the point of death on a cross? Of course, not. But the fact that Jesus lived his life with the end in mind, was evidence of the deep-seeded beliefs of his heart. As C.S. Lewis said of Jesus, he was either a “Liar, a lunatic, or the Son of God,” for no one would have endured what he endured, if he did not believe he was who he said he was.

This is why Jesus says in v. 18, ‘therefore consider carefully how you hear.’ It’s funny that he doesn’t say, ‘consider carefully what you hear’, rather ‘how’ you hear. Why is the manner in which we hear important? What does this mean?

First of all, Jesus is concluding that “what” you hear, isn’t necessarily the determining factor regarding what gets planted in your heart.  The information one person consumes, can have a totally different and more profound effect on one person verses another.

However, what determines whether or not certain thoughts, attitudes and beliefs are being reinforced in our hearts is “how” we hear.  What this means is that when we are listening to and processing information, our heart will interpret the information in a way that reinforces what it already believes to be true. The bible refers to our thoughts as the gatekeeper to our hearts, which means that only the thoughts which reinforce what we already believe are allowed to come in and take root[3].

But why do our hearts operate in this way? Because our hearts were intended to become fixed in a primary direction, namely on the Lord, so that we would stay close to him and not go astray. Unfortunately, our heart’s ability to “fix” itself on one thought, idea or belief can work against us when our hearts are fixed on the wrong thing.

What Jesus is saying in Luke 8:18, is that when information comes your way, whether it be truth or a lie, consider how your heart reacts to that information.  In other words, “Think about what you’re thinking about.”

If, when you hear information, you sense that your heart is becoming even more reinforced on a position which is contrary to the word of God, this should be evidence to you, that somehow, somewhere, you have planted seeds of doubt and unbelief regarding the truth of the word.

On the contrary, consider how your heart responds when it receives knowledge of the truth.  Does your heart embrace the truth, and want more? Or does your heart reject what you are listening to?  How does your heart hear the information that is being presented? If your heart responds positively to the truth, it will open up the gatekeeper of your mind to allow more truth in. This is the evidence that you have planted a seed of truth somewhere in your heart that is ready and waiting to reproduce after its own kind.

Jesus confirms this process by adding, “Whoever has will be given more.” In a sense, what he is saying is, “Whatever your heart is full of, or softened to, you will get more of that,” and in some cases, you could get as much as 100 times what your heart is already full of!

On the other hand, what little of the thoughts, attitudes and beliefs you have fixed in a certain direction, could eventually be taken away, (as Jesus was pointing out verses 12-14), based solely on the condition of your heart. Either the good seeds will outweigh the bad, or the bad seeds will outweigh the good. Your seeds don’t have to be big[4], but you have to have enough of them planted in the right soil in order to produce a harvest.


[1] Luke 8:5-15

[2] Genesis 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25

[3] Proverbs 23:7 (KJV)

[4] Mark 4:31-32