"He who has ears, let him hear." (Mt. 11:15)
We see these words in the New Testament a lot, but what exactly do they mean? Many of the people in Israel had physical ears and were able to physically hear the words that Moses and the prophets spoke. And yet, at the end of the day, God declared the following words concerning most of them: "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For your hearts have become calloused; you hardly hear with your ears, and you have closed your eyes..." (Isaiah 6:9, 10).
When Jesus speaks of a "listening ear," He is referring to the God-given grace of being able to listen to what the Spirit is saying and then acting upon it in our hearts. Jesus is referring to spiritual ears, not physical ears.
If we want to develop and cultivate a "listening ear," we must spend much time with God in prayer and in meditating on the Word. We will never be sensitive to the Spirit's voice unless we are willing to separate ourselves from the world and all of its distractions.
We must continually immerse ourselves in spiritual things. We must force ourselves to shut the door on the world, for the world, with all of its "busyness," distractions, cares, worries, and pleasures will utterly destroy a "listening ear."
I am convinced that in order to cultivate and maintain a "listening ear," we must live radically different from those in the world. We must also live radically different from most people in the Church, for many who attend Mass on a weekly basis, and who identify themselves as Catholics, have not yet come to understand what it means to be separated from the world.
Once God blesses us with a "listening ear," it is up to us to radically guard and protect it by making up our minds that nothing will keep us from prayer, study of God's Word, meditation, attending Mass, or pursuing other spiritual disciplines.
As we grow in our relationship with Christ, He will pull us more and more away from the things of this world in order to draw us closer to Himself. He wants us to be led and governed by the Spirit, not by the world. This is one of the hallmark signs of spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity, however, does not always come with physical maturity, for I know many who are older than I, yet have not even begun to grasp the basics of holy, separated living.
If we do not yield to the Spirit's work of sanctification in our lives, and we resist when He attempts to strip us of our love of this world with all of its entanglements and distractions, we will never develop a listening ear. This world has nothing to offer us but the noise pollution of Hell. Satan is a master at producing just enough noise pollution in our lives so that we will not be able to hear the voice of the Spirit crying out to mankind.
If we are not daily plugging in to the Spirit, we will not have the mind of the Spirit, nor will we be able to hear His voice. If we do not have the mind of the Spirit, we certainly will not walk in the power of the Spirit.
People who believe that God no longer speaks to man today are completely in error. He does speak to man, but in order to hear His voice, we have to develop, cultivate, and maintain a listening ear. If all of my time is spent attending to the things of this world, with no time given to spiritual things on a daily basis, I am not going to have a listening ear. It's not going to happen.
Anytime I begin to neglect prayer, meditation, and the reading of God's Word, the first thing that shrivels up and dies is my "listening ear." I become completely insensitive to the voice and will of the Lord. My flesh takes control, and I no longer yield to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Simply put, I lose my spiritual mind. But when I immerse myself in spiritual things, my sensitivity returns, and I hear the voice of my Father once more.
This world will destroy your "listening ear." As mentioned a few paragraphs back, one of Satan's tricks is to immerse man in the noise pollution of this world so that he cannot hear the voice of the One who created him for His own glory and honor and praise. The prince of darkness loves it when people spend all of their time watching television, reading worldly books, surfing the Internet, working overtime, playing sports, pursuing hobbies, etc., because these things will keep us from spending time with God in prayer as well as in the study of His Word. They will keep us from developing a listening ear, and if there is one thing Satan does not want, it is for man to listen to God.
The man or woman who attends Mass on a weekly basis, yet pursues the world for the rest of the week, does not cause Hell to tremble. Hell trembles at the man or woman who is willing to completely shut the door on the world and its noise in order to seek the Lord and hear His voice. It is the listening ear that Satan is trying to destroy in man because he knows that if man does not listen to God, he will not obey God. In order for him to destroy man's soul, he must first destroy man's listening ear. We must wake up to his tricks and tactics and guard ourselves heavily against them. If we are going to be overcomers in this world, we must know our enemy.
If you have not already begun to do so, I want to encourage you to develop a strong devotional life. Make it a daily habit to spend time in prayer and in God's Word. Don't let anything keep you from these disciplines. I can assure you that you will quickly notice the difference in your relationship with God. Not only this, but the more you immerse yourself in heavenly things, the more you will be able to see and listen with the eyes and ears of the Spirit. Your entire outlook will change because you will be thinking with the mind of Christ and not the mind of man.
He who has a "listening ear," let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
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