Selective listening

If a child is in the other side of the house, and if you say something that interests them—something perhaps about getting ice cream—they can hear you. They have great hearing when it is to their benefit.

But if that child is sitting in the other side of the house, and if you say something they don’t want to hear—like how it’s time to do chores—they don’t seem to hear as well.

Let’s call it selective listening.

In Mark 4:20, Jesus tells us how we should respond to God’s teachings. We should “hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop…”

Sure, we may hear Jesus’ words. But do we accept them and respond? Do we only accept some of them? Does our selective hearing and selective accepting mean that we selectively respond?

To listen to some of what Jesus says and not to all of what Jesus says is to not listen to what Jesus says.

I realize this is a work in progress for all of us, myself included. From what I’ve seen, everyone has a “Bible within a Bible,” meaning that they selectively prioritize certain passages over others.

I also realize that some passages might be hard to understand, and that it takes time, study and prayer to more fully understand Scripture. But deep down I think we know the parts we are consciously avoiding because we would just rather do what we want instead of what God wants.

To listen to some of what Jesus says and not to all of what Jesus says is to not listen to what Jesus says.

The opposite of selective listening is wholehearted following.

Let’s be honest with ourselves and with God and take that next best step.


Notes:

–The Up Devotional is published 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) and returns on July 18, 2022.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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