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Luke 8:18
Be careful
how you hear

Luke 8:18 Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.

Category: Imperative of the Week Posted: 11-10-2017 By: Gerrit Kamp

We find this imperative in a tiny paragraph in the eighth chapter of the gospel of Luke. The command is that Jesus’ audience (the disciples) had to take heed how they were hearing. The greek for take heed is ‘blepo’ and it means to see, to be observant. This can be in a literal sense, with your eyes, or in a metaphorical sense, with your mind. In our verse today, it clearly is the latter option. Be careful, take heed, pay attention are all valid translations.

So what should the disciples be careful about? About how they hear. The greek for how you hear is ‘pos akouo’, which means indeed by what means or in what manner you hear. Then Jesus gives them the reason why they should be careful about how they hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.

Wow. I guess Jesus is right, we should be very careful about how we hear because this seems utterly unfair. People who already have will receive more, and those who do not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them? Does this mean that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Where is the justice and fairness in that?

Jesus preached this principle more than once. There are 2 distinct occasions when Jesus taught it. The first occasion is the one here in Luke 8 (and Matthew 13:12 and Mark 4:25), where Jesus had just privately explained the parable of the sower and the seed to His disciples. And the second occasion is when He had just taught them the parable of the faithful (and less faithful) stewards (in Luke 19:26 and Matthew 25:29). These two parables are probably among the most important ones in scripture for reasons I will explain below.

At the first occasion, Jesus had just told the parable of the sower and the seeds (Luke 8:4-10). His audience did not understand it. Even His closest disciples had to ask Him about the meaning. Jesus then explains the parable to them and He tells them about mysteries of the kingdom, light and about how hidden things will be revealed. And then He gives them the above mentioned seemingly unfair principle. So the principle here deals with light, which is a synonym for truth. Those who have truth will receive even more, but those who think they have truth (but in reality do not), even what they think they have will be taken from them.

At the second occasion, Jesus had just told them the parable of the lord who went away for a long time and then came back. The lord demanded an accounting of his stewards, how they used what he had given them during his absence. The faithful stewards got lots of rewards and but the lord took away from the unfaithful steward that little which he had. So in this context, it is about treasure in heaven, eternal rewards, blessings from God. Those people who are already blessed by God (because they are faithful stewards) will receive even more, but those who are not blessed by God (because they are not faithful with what God entrusted to them), even what they think they have will be taken from them.

This is why it is so crucial to be very careful how you listen to God. If you do not accurately hear Him, you will lose what you think you have! But if you do hear God accurately, He will give you more truth and light and insights, and in the future, more eternal rewards. 

For the disciples, there was only way one in which they could accurately hear God. It was by staying close to Jesus and ask Him about the things they did not understand. It cost them everything they had; they left their homes and jobs, and followed Jesus. They had to be faithful stewards with what God had given them. As a result, they had truth and they will be rewarded richly.

Likewise for us Christians today, there is only one way to accurately hear God. We have to read His Word, study it, and pray humbly to God, asking Him to open our eyes to His truth. We likewise have to leave our former lives behind and follow Jesus, listening daily to our Lord and be faithful stewards of what He has given us. We will then also receive more truth and we will also be richly rewarded when our Lord comes back.

Godspeed!

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