By H.L. Bruce
According to the scriptures, hearing is very important. The apostle Paul wrote, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Faith depends on the message of God penetrating the heart, or mind, of the receiver. The significance of faith can be seen in that without it it is impossible to please God (see Heb. 11:6). Dr. Jesse S. Nirenberg, in his book, Getting Through To People, points out that there are three levels on which people listen: non-hearing, hearing without absorbing, and thinking on what they hear.” Let us notice each of these and how they relate to spiritual service.
The non-hearing: These are the ones who will sit in an audience and can neither agree nor disagree with what is said. They are either voluntarily or involuntarily inattentive. They do not know what is being said. They are not worshiping even though they are present. They are among those who laugh to themselves, play with babies, sleep, stare, day-dream, write notes and/or talk etc. They need to discipline themselves into a proper disposition to worship God (Jn. 4:24).
Hearing without absorbing: The ones in this category do not reason with the speaker. At times they even have their minds on distant things. However, were you to ask them a sudden question, they could repeat your last few words. These listen with divided attention.
The thinking listener: The one who will think on the subject as the speaker presents it is the one who is being taught. He listens with interest and wants to learn and know the truth.
Christ taught that men should take heed “how” and “what” they hear (Mark 4:24; Lk. 8:18). Upon which level do you listen? Are you among the “non-hearing,” the “hearing without absorbing,” or, “the thinking”?
Truth Magazine XXIII: 5, p. 92
February 1, 1979