Therefore, consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; who ever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him”
Luke 8:18 (emphasis mine)
How can you lose what you never had? Luke states this happens when you only think you’ve got some thing. Sounds confusing, but it’s quite simple. The context of this verse deals with what occurs when people hear God’s Word. Like seeds, God’s Word is scattered about. At any given time, in many places, His Word goes out over the air waves, through spoken words and printed materials. Many of us are bombarded with opportunities to hear about God from a wide variety of sources.
Have you learned something new only to realize that almost instantly, you forgot it? You thought you had it, but you lost it. When it comes to God’s Word the devil works hard to make sure this happens. We’ll hear something, agree, implement it and have a measure of success. Things get tough, our belief gets challenged and we tell ourselves, “This doesn’t work.” We give up and quit. We thought we had it but we lost it.
Circumstances toy with our thought processes. Worries about life, money or a lack thereof, pleasures and so forth side track us and divert our attention. We lose what we thought we had because we never really possessed it. Things aren’t hopeless however. Luke shows the power of God’s Word when heard and retained. Adversity came, but with perseverance it was overcome and the bumper crop arrived. Success!
How do we really “get it?” Verse eighteen gives us the answer. “Consider carefully how you listen.” Our subconscious minds pick up things our conscious minds miss. We need to monitor the surroundings and situations that can negatively influence us. We can’t avoid everything and everyone but we can be vigilant and wise. What we listen to is as important as how well we listen. There are many voices opposed to God competing for our attention. Their persuasive, forceful arguments can easily move us off God Word if we let them influence our thinking. Faced with ongoing challenges we must go past mental assent into unshakable faith. With God’s Word as final authority and the benchmark we measure all things against, we progress from head knowledge to heart faith.
It would be nice if life was always smooth sailing, but reality includes storms and rough seas. God’s Word contains the truths we need to navigate our ship through the tempest and not sink. When opportunity to partake of His Word arises from the wide variety of sources available, let’s be diligent to really listen. We can go from just thinking we've got it to grasping and implementing what we’ve heard. We won’t lose it because we really have it.