At a recent Communion service at Pierrepont,, the preacher was asking us what Jesus’ response was when asked about the most important commandment. Most people think that it is to love the Lord our God, which is what Jesus goes on to say, but in Mark’s gospel it is not the first thing that Jesus tells us in response to this question. The first words he speaks are: ‘Hear, O Israel.’
I had not noticed this before, and it made me think again about the importance of listening to God. So many times, when Jesus was teaching, He said: ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’ He was clearly not talking about the ability to hear physically, but rather about spiritual ears. How clearly do we hear the Lord? How often do we take time to listen to Him?
In today’s verse, Jesus is quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which is known by Jews as the Shema. This is the Hebrew word for ‘Hear’ and is used regularly as a prayer. However, I understand that ‘shema’ means not only to hear, but to hear and respond, to hear and do.
The late Jim Graham often used to challenge his listeners by asking when was the last time they had heard the Lord speaking to them? He would then ask what the Lord had said to them on that occasion, and whether they had acted on what He had said to them. He was making the point that, if we had not acted on what we had heard the last time, we might not hear as clearly from the Lord again until we had.
There may be times when, because of our carnal nature, we don’t like what God is showing us or what He is asking us to do. In those cases, we may, consciously or subconsciously, prefer to ignore His voice. This may result in a hardening of our hearts towards Him, after which it becomes more difficult for us to hear Him the next time. Hebrews 3:7-8 says: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’
When was the last time you heard God speaking to you? What did He say to you then? Have you acted on what He said? Let’s be people who have ears to hear, and who respond by doing what we are asked to do.
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