Lend Me Your Ears!

ear.jpgIn John Bunyan’s classic book The Holy War he introduces us to a town named Mansoul.  Bunyan describes the town as built by a wonderful King named Shaddai who lived in a magnificent castle in the middle of the town.  The town is further described as having five gates: eye-gate, ear-gate, feel-gate, nose-gate and mouth-gate.  These were the only entrances into the town and the gates could only be opened from the inside.  Bunyan is teaching us two valuable lessons: (1) the path to a human soul is only reached through our five senses and (2) those senses are controlled by our will.  Today we’re going to focus in on the ear. The ear is a wonderful creation and as we have seen is carefully designed by God to help us interact with the world around us.  Of course what we allow into our soul through the ear-gate will influence us, both negatively and positively. So, what does the Bible teach us about our ears and the art of listening?

1. It does teach us to stop listening to certain things.

a. Wrong counsel or instruction (Proverbs 19:27)

Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.

b. “Foolish” music (Ecclesiastes 7:5)

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

c. Fables (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.  

Illustration: The story is told of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, "I murdered my grandmother this morning." The guests responded with phrases like, "Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir." It was not till the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Nonplussed, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, "I'm sure she had it coming." (Source Unknown) 

2. The emphasis in Scripture, however, is what TO listen to.

a. Good counsel or instruction (Proverbs 1:5; 8:33; 19:20)

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.

b. Parents (Proverbs 1:8)

My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

c. Christ (Matthew 17:5)

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

d. Repentant brothers/sisters in Christ (Matthew 18:15)

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

e. Word of God (Luke 8:21)

And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

f. Spiritual-building qualities (Philippians 4:6-9)

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

g. Joy and Gladness (Psalm 51:8)

3. The Bible also tells us how to listen. (James 1:19)

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 

4. God’s Word even gives us some benefits of godly listening habits.

a. Wisdom (Proverbs 19:20)

Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.

b. Spiritual healing (Psalm 51:8)

Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

c. Restored relationships (Matthew 18:15)

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

d. Peace (Isaiah 26:3)

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 

The important thing to remember when you are entertaining gossip, passing on a dirty joke, or backbiting someone is that listening to the wrong content will influence your mind and heart in devastating ways.  That’s why the Bible is so emphatic about guarding these senses:

Psalm 141:3 Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.         

2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,         

Psalm 101:3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.         

Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.         

Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he 

Conclusion: In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2, Mark Antony brings Caesar’s lifeless body into the Roman Forum and delivers the immortal phrase “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;”  Some of us this afternoon need to remember that our spirit AND bodies have been bought with a price and do not belong to us anymore.  We need to lend our ears to God’s business and set guards before our ears so that our heart is not captured by evil words and sounds. 

In Bunyan’s Holy War he stated that the principal roads leading into the town of Mansoul came to the eye-gate and the ear-gate because that is where gossip and rumor most took place. 

Application: What have you been listening to?  What content have you allowed into your soul through your ears?  What covenants have you made with God regarding your listening?  What music is influencing your heart?  What is its message?  How tuned in have you become to your parents’ counsel?  Have you been willing to listen when fellow Christians have wronged you and then sought forgiveness?  Are you regularly listening to God’s Word?  How is it changing your life and making you more like Jesus Christ?  What film and video viewing has burned your eyes and ears spiritually?  What guards will you put in place there? 

PROPOSITION: each person reading this must make a choice.  You must choose to make a covenant with God to guard your ears or you must choose not to listen to God’s Word today and open your heart through your ears to evil.  You make the choice.  My plea today is that you will let the mind of the Master be the master of your mind.


One response to this post.

  1. Hey Brian,

    Great article. I like the diagram of the ear. Also the message outline was practical and informative. I’ll probably copy and preach it sometime if that is ok with you. Please continue to let your thoughts flow through this blog as they are great to read. Of course I would say that since I’m closely related to you 🙂


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