Our Lord cautioned His people to take heed to what they hear. Nothing can be more necessary than to be on guard against error. But the caution how we hear was also necessary for the following reasons:
1. Because many hear sermons in a wrong way and with wrong attitudes.
Many are careless hearers by allowing their thoughts to roam toward other things during the preaching. Many also are critical, fault-finding hearers, and then many are carnal hearers and will not hear anything that rebukes them, makes them uncomfortable, or condemns them. So we all should take heed what we hear and how we hear.
2. Because God Himself speaks to us through the preacher.
True ministers are ambassadors for God and speak in Christ’s authority. So what judgment should we expect if we neglect or despise their message?
3. Because every sermon increases either our salvation or condemnation.
Obeying our Lord’s Caution
A humble mind will naturally receive instruction in a proper way. We should hear with wisdom and have our minds open to conviction. We should receive the Word in an honest and good heart and with meekness; we cannot hope to be profited if we do not cultivate this attitude.
We should hear with a desire to fully be benefited and helped. The Word of God is profitable for many blessed purposes; yet it cannot be serviceable to us if it is not received in faith. But when it is applied to the soul, its operation is very powerful. We should therefore at all times apply it to ourselves.
We should also hear the truth with humble dependence upon God’s Spirit. It is God alone who teaches us to spiritually benefit from the truth; it is to Him, therefore, that we should look to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
So, in relation to hearing the Word of God preached, our hearts should have the attitude and prayerfulness of the old Litany: “That it may please You, Lord, to give to all thy people an increase of grace, to hear meekly the Word, to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit”.
– Charles Simeon