Most children growing up in Nigeria know what “hear word” means. It’s the expression your parents use when they mean to say, “listen to wise instruction because you so often don’t!” This saying would sometimes be followed by the ominous “a word is enough for the wise”.
Of the many Nigerian-isms I love, “hear word” is one of my favorites for two reasons: 1) It’s hilarious and 2) it’s deeply profound. Why is it so hard for us “to hear word” even when we are converted? Why does it so often feel like even though we hear with our ears, our hearts are unfazed and unchanging? Why do we sometimes avoid hearing altogether?
I read a short book over the summer and was struck by the line “God speaks to His children in three ways: His Word, His Spirit, and His people”. This line overwhelmed me, surely, I had known this in theory, but I had never “ate it and found it sweet.” (Jer 15:16) You see, it can be so difficult to “hear word” because our hearts are so often hard to God’s Word, God’s spirit, and to God’s people.
God’s Word: Hebrews 4:12 says, His Word is sharper than a two-edged sword, it divides soul and spirit! It exposes thoughts and intentions! Scripture functions as God’s sight and we are all exposed before Him!! What do we do with the hard passages that expose us? Do we brush them off or think of another person it applies to? We shouldn’t. We should “hear word” and be exposed, for the two-edged sword hurts, but its wielder also heals. Of course, this is all dependent on us actually reading His Word, because in reading it, we are more prone to hearing Him, being struck by Him, and being mended by Him.
God’s Spirit: Spurgeon when preaching on Eph. 4:30 explains that the grief felt by the Holy Spirit when we ignore His warnings by indulging sin, fostering unbelief, ignoring disciplines is “a sweet combination of His anger and love”. The Holy Spirit is so faithful a friend; will we not “hear word” and return to Him? Would we ask Him to make us sensitive to His rebuke and to love Him more than the things that steal our ears from His words of life?
God’s People: This category is perhaps the hardest for us to listen to. God’s people are flawed: they can sometimes be wrong but yet they are His. Our hearts can harden with pride. Take this scenario, a woman in church confronts you for constant late-coming, your pride flares up, you think “How dare she?!! Late coming!!! At least I know where all the books of the Bible are!”. The preacher encourages you to not abandon your morning disciplines, your heart retorts “he’s a pastor, his job is to read!” Or, you have a pressing sin but are afraid to share because of what God’s people may think about you. Remember what James says, “therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16). Friends, regard the message and the messenger and do not forfeit healing for fear.
O people of God, may we open our ears, and open our hearts to “hear word” from God through His Spirit, His Word, and His People. “If today, you hear His voice, harden not your hearts…” (Heb. 3:15).
Nendir Parradang has been a member of GRC since 2019. Serving alongside her husband, David, she is a youth ministry leader.