In the beginning of Luke 8, Jesus tells two parables: the parable of the sower, and the parable of a light on a hill.
The parable of the sower may be familiar to you. Jesus tells of a farmer scattering seed. He reveals later that the seed represents the word of God, and the ground represents those who hear it. Some people hear the word, but true understanding is immediately taken away by the Enemy. Some people receive the seed (the word) with joy, but it is planted on rocky ground: “they believe for a while, but in a time of testing they fall away,” (v. 13). Other seed is planted in good soil–the word is eagerly received–but “as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature,” (v.15). Finally, the “good soil” stands for those with a noble and pure heart, who “hear the word, retain it, and by persevering, produce a crop,” (v. 16).
This parable is so interesting that it is easy to lose the main point. It is not a teaching about people who are saved and those who are not. Rather, this is a parable about why those who have received a knowledge of Jesus can cease to grow in their relationship with God and produce good works. In other words, only the first seed was immediately taken away. The other kinds of seed simply ceased to grow and multiply. The knowledge of God that we have received–our salvation–must produce some sort of fruit in ourselves and in the world. If we are receiving yet not multiplying, we are missing an essential part of God’s mission.
This is equally clear in the following passage: Jesus teaches that manifesting God’s love to others is the natural function of Christians by using the analogy of a lamp: “No one lights a lamp and hides it under a bed..they put it on a stand so that those who come in can see the light,” (v. 16).
So how do we actually grow, multiply, and manifest love as Christians? One of the keys is actually hidden in this passage:
“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” (V. 17-18)
“Consider carefully how you listen.” Another translation says, “Take care, then, how you hear.” This is an essential principle for Christian growth. In the parable of the sower, Jesus is teaching on how people receive and continue receiving the word. Some hear God’s call to them originally, but the voice of God is choked by the louder voices of earthly desires and trials down the road. To finish up this teaching, he therefore exhorts his audience to think about how they’ve been listening to and receiving from God. Whoever has been listening will be given more revelation, and whoever has not been listening will not receive more–and what revelation they did have may cease to produce fruit.
This is because God is living and active–in His paradigm, everything is relational. If you were married, would you hear what your husband or wife had to say one day, then cease to listen to them until a week went by? If you did that, would you truly know them? In the same way, we are exhorted to listen to God so that we may know Him. It only by knowing God that we then know our own identity and purpose in the world around us. By listening, we know God, and by knowing God, we know our identity in Him, and by knowing our identity in Him, we know our identity in the world.
Application: How are you hearing? Perform a spiritual hearing exam.
-Are you remaining open to hear God daily? (Through scripture, quiet time in prayer, etc)
-When you’re reading scripture, do you take time to meditate and let it impact your heart? When is the last time scripture or God’s voice in prayer really cut to your heart or convicted you?
-On a given day, consider honestly how much exposure to the world’s voice (through media, entertainment, etc) vs. God’s voice you have.