My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)
No doubt you have at one time or another been criticized for not listening. When you were a teenager – you were probably told when asked to look for something that you failed to see what was right in front of you. Even as adults we will sometimes overlook things, because we are preoccupied and not focused. Our brain meshes with our vision and hearing to create a conscious understanding, and when we lack regard for one or the other – we set ourselves up to be labeled as unthoughtful or inconsiderate. Along with the influence of the other senses, seeing and hearing combine to assist us in navigating through the world. Our personal history, however, shows that we are often led by misperceptions. Add to that the increasingly prevailing attitude that we are often expected to conform to the way others believe, we are afforded little tolerance when we attempt to develop our own sense of individuality or self-expression. “Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right” (Romans 14:22).
The religious leaders in Jesus’ time often acted with contempt. To contest their doctrines, Jesus gave indication that those many of those around Him were both spiritually deaf and blind. When asked by His disciples why He spoke to the people in parables, His answer was simply this: “To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand” (Matthew 13:12-13). It’s as if He was saying: “Those who reject me are spiritually blind because they automatically cast-off any understanding of who I am. The truth sounds foolish to them, and if they hear it – they do not comprehend that it is God’s truth and therefore fail to take it to heart.”
A good case in point is the relationship between King David and the prophet Nathan, who challenged his self-awareness. Having been sent by God, Nathan tells David the story of a rich man who took a prize possession from a poor man and used it for his own purposes (2 Samuel 12:2-4). Upon hearing the story, “David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die!’” (2 Samuel 12:5). Although he heard the words of the prophet, he failed to hear the truth of those words. That is until Nathan confronted him. “You are that man! The LORD, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife” (2 Samuel 12:7-9). “Then David confessed to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ Nathan replied, ‘Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin’” (2 Samuel 12:13).
Each of us have times in our life when we are blinded by and deafened to God’s truth because we have become subject to the deception that is in the world. The goal of the Great Deceiver (Satan) is to devour the weak who fall prey to temptation, fear, loneliness, worry, and depression. Jesus said: “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” (Matthew 6:22-23). Every day our thoughts and concentrations are bombarded with rather dark ideas from print, electronic and social media, as well as those around us. It’s easy to be deceived, unless we take the opportunity to renew our mind. God wants us to listen more intently for His voice and also to see with greater clarity the blessings He has placed right in front of us, including His Word. As we do this, our light will shine for the world (Matthew 5:16) and those around us will know, without a doubt, that we have truly seen and heard.
REFLECTION: Are there ways you might consider changing some of the sources of what you daily see and hear to better reflect God’s Word and consistency with His character? How can we be challenged by one of Jesus apostles who said: “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:9)?