Often, we wonder how it is that we might go about passing on wisdom to the next generation, whether they be our own children or just young people in our midst. The father in our text begins with a very clear call to action. He tells his son, “Hear, my son, and accept my sayings.” This command is meant to grab the disciple’s attention.
We can’t receive instruction if we are not listening. Yet, we live in a generation that has never been more distracted. When we should be listening attentively, what we have in previous messages called active listening, we are often distracted by our gadgets, our daydreams, our weekly labors, and perhaps even the person sitting next to us. We must especially guard those times in which we are receiving godly instruction.
When my boss at work tells me what needs to be done, the only reason I should be breaking out my cell phone is to take down a number or record some other information he’s passing on to me. This is a common cultural understanding that we all have. Yet, when it comes to receiving the preached word or participating in Bible studies, we often find that we can’t pull ourselves away from our phones.
Listening to our boss will ensure that we know where our next meal is coming from. Listening to the preachers and teachers God has placed in our lives will ensure that we have life. Some may think that they are hiding behind their phones, but to older generations that were raised largely without cell phones, when we look at our phones when we should be listening, we are actually drawing attention to ourselves.
What about daydreams? I daydream. In fact, so much so that I have often requested of my wife that she get my attention before conversing with me. Oftentimes, if she does not get my attention, she might get three or four sentences into a discourse before I even realize that she is talking to me.
What about weekly labors? It’s good that we want to know what one another has been up to since we last saw one another. However, when we come to the worship service, our primary focus is to be the Lord. We need to have our minds sharp, ready to receive the word, attentive, hungry… Instead, we can have a tendency to bring our cares and concerns from the week, or the week to come, into the worship of God. Consider the words of Amos:
So, we allow ourselves to bring the concerns of our week into our worship of God, and we think nothing of it. Are you aware that God thinks much of it? It is no trivial matter to Him. God is jealous for His worship. His people should be zealous to guard it from the entanglements of this world.
What about the person sitting next to you? This is especially a discussion we should each have with our children. If you find that you cannot sit next to the person next to you without being distracted from the word of God, it might be better to sit elsewhere or find a way to avoid distraction. If you are distracted with one another, that means that you are keeping him or her from hearing the word of God as well.
These are all precepts that should be greatly considered by the people of God as we consider how we receive the preaching of the word and godly instruction. Let us take head to listen and, at every turn, to minimize distraction when receiving godly instruction. Why? Because godly instruction is life-giving.
“And the years of your life will be many,” (vs. 10b).
We get that a healthy diet has a general impact on just how long we can expect our lives to be. We make decisions regarding our food based on how important it is to us to live long lives vs. how important it is to us to eat what we want. If our desire to eat what we want outweighs our desire for a long life, it will show in the way we eat.
The same is true for the Christian life. Do you want to have a long, healthy Christian walk? Do you want to make decisions that adorn sound doctrine and exalt Christ? Or would you prefer to be distracted from godly instruction? Do you want to abide in the joy of your salvation and communion with the God who has so graciously supplied it? Or do you prefer your distractions?
Before us lies a choice:
- Godly living that exalts the name of Christ and promotes our own spiritual well-being, or…
- Distracted, apathetic living.
Which will you choose?1
1Taken from a sermon series from the book of Proverbs preached at Sovereign Grace Particular Baptist Church of San Angelo, TX.