Jesus made a very interesting statement, which on the surface, seems odd. But, when you think about it, is a very powerful and wise statement.
"Therefore, consider carefully how you listen" (Luke 8:18). Consider carefully how I listen? How I listen to what?; I find myself asking myself. How do you listen?
Then He goes on. "Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him".
Actually Jesus made a profound statement here. Research has shown that the average person hears between 20,000 and 30,000 words during a twenty-four period. That's a lot of words. The average sentence length is around 14 words. That means you and I are hearing between 1,429 and 2,143 sentences per day. We are hearing plenty of noise. This doesn't include times we're hearing other sounds in the course of our day, such as telephones, TVs, DVDs, etc....
What we hear goes into our thoughts. We filter it and determine the most important. The most important are embedded in our subconscious and eventually filters down to our hearts.
What Gains Your Attention?
Most of this is done subconsciously. Our subconscious minds automatically filter out those noises that we don't want to hear. For example, most of us have reached the point, where we automatically filter out written ads or television commercials. We just don't listen to them.
Or we subconsciously tune in to something we wish to hear. For example, you may be at a restaurant. There are many people there talking. Your mind is on let's say, your favorite sports team. Even in the midst of a conversation, you may hear other people at the next table talking about your sports team. Then without even trying, you find yourself keying in on that conversation.
So, we are constantly and automatically filtering in or out those things we wish to hear.
Filtering is Dangerous
We're told in Colossians 2:14, that through the penalty He paid on the cross, Jesus "canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us...." Studies have shown that we have between 12,000 and 50,000 thoughts each day. About 80% of those thoughts are a critical nature.
It seems that no matter the amount of success we've had or the positive things about us, our tendency is to focus on the negative we see in ourselves. This results in negative self-talk that we indulge in each and every day.
Often we nurture the roots of fear by our negative self-talk. We say things like "I'm not good enough", I'm not pretty enough" or "I'm not intelligent enough". More often, we filter out the good comments people give to us. For the Christian, someone may pay us a compliment by saying something like "you're a very good singer" or "you're a very good speaker".
Most often, what is our response. "Well thank you, but it's the Lord". Yet, we have no problem whatsoever taking credit for the negative things we say and think about ourselves. These are the negative decrees we speak against ourselves.
But, Jesus took those away and made them powerless on the cross. You and I need to be mindful of this. Filtering can be good. But negative filtering can be dangerous for us.
Consider Job. Job was a very blessed man. In the beginning of the book of Job (1:3), it's written that Job was very blessed and was the greatest of all the men of the east.
Satan came before God and asked permission to attack Job. God, knowing Job to be an upright man, allowed Job to be tested. Satan attacked all Job had, including his health, but was not allowed to kill Job.
In the midst of his troubles, Job made a very powerful statement. "For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me. And what I dreaded has happened to me." Job had filtered out all the good things about his life and filtered in fear, by nurturing the roots of fear.
How Job "listened" brought great and needless calamity upon him.
"Therefore consider carefully how you listen" (Luke 8:18).