Listen carefully...

I had an email from a dear friend the other day. Some years ago she lost her hearing, eventually becoming quite deaf, so we can’t enjoy a good chat on the phone. Last year she had a cochlear implant, and since then she has been learning to hear again. The hardest part, especially to begin with, was learning which sounds to ignore and which to attend to. It takes a lot of practice.

Isn’t it the same with our spiritual ears? We are bombarded by voices from the culture around us, voices in these days of all-pervading shallowness coming to us largely in the guise of entertainment. How easily our minds can be shaped and our tastes affected by what we read or watch or hear.  And what is the message of these siren voices? Basically, it’s all about ‘me’.  I should enjoy myself, affirm myself, promote myself… What an endless stream of selfies, what a torrent of trivial information and ill-thought-out opinions, pour out through social media second by second, feeding our narcissistic desires to be ‘liked’ or ‘followed’! How tempting it can be to join in!

Let us listen instead to voices that really matter. Think on these things:

John the Baptist says, “He (the Lord Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

King Solomon says, “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2-3)

The Apostle Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

James says,”Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:21-22)

Moses says, “And the Lord said to me, ‘I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.’” (Deuteronomy 18:17-19)

God Himself makes it clear who that Prophet is, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5b)

And listen carefully to the solemn warning of the Lord Jesus:

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practise lawlessness!”

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who builds his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. (Matthew 7:21-27)

To whom are we listening?  On whose words are we building our lives?

Above the voices of the world around me,

My hopes and dreams, my cares and loves and fears,

The long-awaited call of Christ has found me,

The voice of Jesus echoes in my ears:

"I gave my life to break the cords that bind you,

I rose from death to set your spirit free;

Turn from your sins, and put the past behind you,

Take up your cross and come and follow me."


What can I offer him who calls me to him?

Only the wastes of sin and self and shame;

A mind confused, a heart that never knew him,

A tongue unskilled at naming Jesus’ name.

Yet at your call, and hungry for your blessing,

Drawn by that cross which moves a heart of stone,

Now Lord I come, my tale of sin confessing,

And in repentance turn to you alone.


Lord, I believe; help now my unbelieving;

I come in faith because your promise stands.

Your word of pardon and of peace receiving,

All that I am I place within your hands.

Let me become what you shall choose to make me,

Freed from the guilt and burden of my sins.

Jesus is mine, who never shall forsake me,

And in his love my new-born life begins.


Timothy Dudley-Smith