Everyone who comes to Me and listens to My words and obeys them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and yet could not shake it, because it had been securely built and founded on the rock. But the one who has heard and has not practiced, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation, and the torrent burst against it; and it immediately collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.
Two boys, sons of the same father, grew up in the same fashion but turned out very differently. Dad was a good man who daily taught his sons the difference between right and wrong and the proper way to treat other people. Both sons heard every word that dad ever said, but only one son listened to him. The first son took his father’s words to heart and began to put them into practice at an early age. He was the boy who would give up his place in line for another or sacrifice his turn on the ball field. The second son only heard dad’s words but did not keep them. Those words fell on deaf ears as he wandered through life seeking only what he could get for himself. It turns out that there certainly is a difference between hearing and listening.
When God speaks to us, whether through written words or spoken words, whether through a dream or merely a feeling, his desire is that we listen to him. This means that we accept his words as truth, and we act on them. If the word of God tells us to love those less fortunate by meeting their physical needs, then the expectation is that we go out and do this. We are to live that which we are taught by God. In the same way, we must be vigilant not to listen to the words that are spoken in an effort to distract or destroy us. When you hear someone speak of how foolish you are for believing that Jesus is the son of God, you only hear that. You do not listen to it or accept it as truth. It is not something that you grab hold of and allow to affect your faith. And when the enemy whispers lies in your ears, those are words that you only hear. Pay no heed to them.
We must be very careful how we respond to the messages that are spoken to us. When we are confronted with truth and love, we are to hold on to those words and allow them to take root in us. They should affect how we live out our faith. On the other hand, when the messages we receive are evil in their intent or merely untrue, we cannot do more than simply hear them. We must reject untruths and discouraging words for what they are. If we let them take root in us, they will only lead us away from the truth of God. Father, teach us the difference between hearing and listening, and give us what we need to listen to your instruction and walk it out faithfully.