Today many of us will gather in local churches to hear the preaching of God’s word from faithful ministers. So what is the proper spiritual posture we should take for listening to the sermon? In our recently released ebook, Take Care How You Listen, John Piper offers us help in preparing our hearts on Sundays. At one point Pastor John writes this:
Come in a spirit of meek teachability. Not gullibility. You have your Bible and you have your head. But James says, “In meekness receive the implanted word” (1:21). If we come with a chip on our shoulder that there is nothing we can learn or no benefit we can get, we will prove ourselves infallible on both counts. But if we humble ourselves before the Word of God, we will hear and grow and bear fruit. (24)
And a little later he writes:
As you sit quietly and pray and meditate on the text and the songs, remind yourself of what Psalm 19:10–11 says about the words of God: “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” So because the Word of God is greater than all riches and sweeter than all honey, take heed how you hear. Desire it more than you desire all these things.
As Proverbs 2:3–5 says, “If you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” May God make us a people who hear the Word of God and bear fruit a hundredfold so that the lamp of our lives will be on a lampstand giving light to all who enter the kingdom of God. Take heed how you hear! (26)
Yes, those are in fact Jesus’ words to all of us: “Take care how you listen” (Luke 8:18). We take care because how we listen to the sermon today reveals a lot about the condition of our own hearts, making Sunday a good day to evaluate our own posture of intake.
Skillful listening is a non-negotiable skill for everyone who enters a church building on Sunday or plays a sermon through headphones during the week. Scripture calls us not only to consider carefully what sermons we listen to, but also how we listen to those sermons.
This ebook addresses how to listen well. It is comprised of five unedited sermon manuscripts from the preaching ministry of John Piper.