There’s a whole science (according to Wikpedia, which never lies) about how music affects shopping trends. Apparently the musical pap that I have to listen to in the elevator forces me to rush out and buy patterned sweaters, whilst salivating.
OK, maybe I got that last bit wrong.
In any case, Muzak forms a subliminal background to all kinds of social contexts.
But that’s the point: it’s subliminal. It doesn’t engage us. It’s just wallpaper. We don’t connect or appreciate it.
Which brings me to a lovely Greek adjective in Hebrews 5 and 6, to the word nothros, which is translated as “blunt, dull, slothful; sluggish, remiss, slack” and which relates to the way you respond to what’s coming into your audial range.
The writer of Hebrews made constant reference to the way people listen: “ Pay close attention to the message you’ve heard lest you drift away.” “Today, if you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts…”
What’s he saying?
“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. [literally: you’ve grown nothros of hearing] 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”. Hebrews 5:11-14
Be careful that what you hear doesn’t turn into Muzak, into background noise.
Hebrews 3 reminds us of what happens when that happens “For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as Israel did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.
The opposite is lined up in Hebrews 6:11,12 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy –nothros– but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
So you can see the danger of treating the word of God like Muzak : It’s a kind of hearing with the ears that is unresponsive in the heart. It doesn’t embrace the Word of God with faith. And therefore, it doesn’t produce the fruit of patience and obedience.
So how do you hear?
If we don’t listen properly (according to that Hebrews 5:11-14 quote above) we get stuck in the baby-stage of being followers of Jesus. We stay passive, dull, lazy and fail to make the most of what’s on offer!
“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil…”
“Solid food” is for grown-ups, who through practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
OK, so what is the “though practice” routine? The problem with these Christians is not that milk is weak or that babies can’t manage steak. The problem is that these babies are not exercising with what they already have and they really need practice to have their moral sensitivity trained to discern good and evil.
It’s not a matter of shoving a steak sandwich in a baby’s faltering grip and saying: “It’ll do you good in the long run!”
You have to start with that word “practice” until the habit becomes habitual.
Now I’ve spent plenty of time -at either end of babies- to know the incredible amount of focus that goes on into the process of nourishment. It’s a huge deal. If you don’t believe me, then try pulling a bottle away from a baby in mid-feed and then go watch TV for a while. See how you get on.
All this means is: if you want to grow up and feast on the fullness of God’s revelation, you don’t do it by jumping from milk to meat. You do it first by the way you drink the milk. The milk has to make you a certain kind of discerning person before you can digest the meat.
First you drink it in. Read, listen, ponder, think on the promises of God. Don’t be critical, patronizing, tricky or clever, just stay thirsty. Focus.
Savour it and digest it: “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). The combination of senses here is really important: the sense of taste refers to your careful consideration, the sense of sight refers to your discrimination.
And watch as the Word of God transforms your values and priorities.
And then you begin to discern the good and the bad. Every day, apparently, you have ten thousand separate thoughts. Many of these thoughts refer to choices that must be made. What will you watch on TV? What will you wear? Who will you talk to? What will you talk about?
It doesn’t take discernment to know what’s wrong if you have a list from God. Knowing when to murder and when to steal and when to commit adultery take no discernment if you believe God gave the Ten Commandments. So verse 14 is talking about decisions that are not laid down specifically in a list.
And it says that there is such a thing as discernment between good and evil. How does this discernment come? It comes from habitually (by regular practice) nourishing and shaping your spiritual senses by the Word of God until that word becomes a “word of righteousness”—a discerning power, a word producing righteousness in the mature. Discernment is what you do naturally when the milk of God’s promises is so savoured and so satisfying that it gives you the mind of Christ. This is the remedy for “dullness of hearing.”
Drink with delight until the desires of your heart are so transformed as to become the discernment of good and evil. Then you will be mature and ready for God’s MORE.
- Senses trained to discern good and evil (dailymedit.wordpress.com)
- Senses trained to discern good and evil (bobbyedegbo.wordpress.com)
- The Christian’s battle to remain sober and alert (christianfantasyforwomen.com)
- Spiritual discernment: When do we live? (allsaintsrussellville.net)
- Why so Many Christians Make Bad Choices (faithbibleministries.wordpress.com)