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Ten wrong ways to listen

September 2007 | by Gary Shepard

Ten wrong ways to listen

 by Gary Shepard

‘But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves’ (James 1:22)

Beloved, it is a wonderful blessing to any preacher’s heart when those to whom he is called to minister love to attend and gather together to hear the gospel. It is encouraging not only to the preacher but to the whole congregation.

But how sad is the opposite – empty seats, when people no longer seem to care for the eternal truths of God’s Word.

However, even among those who come, there are great differences in the way they hear. There are some who hear with great profit, whose hearing becomes part of the church’s worship. But there are others who hear without profit – ‘The word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it’ (Hebrews 3:2).

What kind of hearer am I, are you? Does what I hear profit me or not? Here, for our warning and edification, are ten wrong ways of listening to gospel preaching.

1. There are some who get no good from hearing the gospel because their hearing is soon followed by forgetting.

2. Some just listen to the voice of a man instead of listening for the voice of God.

3. There are some who will listen to what pleases them but will not hear that which tries them or confronts them with their sin.

4. Some hearers want always to hear something new because they are bored by the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

5. There are some whose hearing is only for the eloquence or style of the preacher, and not for the substance of what is preached.

6. Many hear the gospel preached to the congregation but do not hear it for themselves.

7. There is too much unprepared hearing. Oh, that God would help us to prepare ourselves for hearing his Word in humility and obedience.

8. Some hearers come with a critical ear – aiming to fault what is said and how it is said, and thereby justify themselves.

9. Many come to hear the Word, but after hearing it they remain unchanged.

10. Last of all, there are some who do not hear to their profit because they do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us heed the instruction, ‘Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls’ (James 1:21).