Ears to Hear

“But hear what? If someone was talking and my ears could hear their words then I heard – but heard what – what was I supposed to hear…” — Rick Cox

Many of us, especially those who attended Sunday School as a child or had the Bible read to them as they grew up or still read the Bible today, are probably familiar with this phrase. I read through the Bible once a year and have for most of my adult life therefore, I have read this statement as often as I have read the Bible and have heard it more than read it. As much as I have read those words however, it was many years before I came to know their real meaning. What matters most is this statement is still as applicable today as it was when it was said all those years ago.

It is funny how the human brain works in that someone can speak and although we do hear words being said we often do not understand what was meant by that which was said. We might have heard sound or someone speak, but we didn’t “hear.” What is being said in this statement is we heard, but we didn’t understand that which we heard. Many years ago a pastor gave a great analogy of this by saying there are three different and distinct versions of what is said:

1. What you said

2. What I think you said

3. What you think you said

He continued by saying there are also three different and distinct versions of what is heard:

1. What I heard

2. What you heard

3. What you think I heard

I believe this can best be illustrated with the following story:

If you were an architect and I a pharmacist, we would both have great professions, but we might not have ears to hear AND UNDERSTAND the same things. The reason is simple. If I was a pharmacist, I would have attended many classes and lectures, as well as read many books with possible tutoring to boot with regard to chemistry. As an architect you would have done the same with regarding architecture.

So, let’s say you invite me to a lecture by a famous architect. I attend thinking of how awesome it is I have the opportunity to hear this great architect; listening to his many accomplishments as well his discussion of his famous designs and world class buildings. What I find however, is the architect launches into the theory and fundamentals of architecture in order to lay a proper foundation for his subject matter previous to getting into that for which I am interested. The result is I am lost before he gets started.

Why am I lost? The simple answer is I didn’t have ears to hear seeing as how I had never studied architecture and therefore, couldn’t possibly have ears to hear because my ears were not trained to hear and understand the fundamentals of architecture. My ears as stated earlier were trained to hear about chemistry as a pharmacist. The ability to understand what is said is the key. One must have trained ears if one is going to understand what is being said or what one is hearing. So, the next time you are listening, ask yourself if you have ears to hear or is it just going to be noise?

Jesus said, “If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.” Not everyone that was within listening distance actually understood what Jesus was saying though they could hear his words. Like the pharmacist at the architect convention, unless you have ears to hear what it is that you are hearing, you will not be able to understand what is being said. This applies to all communication and it becomes the reason for the issues and differences that separate or divide our families, friends and business associates AND ESPECIALLY, spouses. Depending on our background, we might not have ears to hear in that we might not have an educated ear to hear what is being communicated.

On the other hand there is another reason for not HEARING and that is due to our attitude. When we are listening to others talk we may be hindered from understanding what is said based on our personal or HEARD knowledge of the person speaking and have formed an attitude that precludes us from actually hearing what is being the truth or wisdom of what is being said. Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” When we think we know someone this can keep us from learning what they may have been able to teach us had we been able to hear.

The next time there is a communication issue, regardless of whom or what it is, remember the three distinct versions of what was said as well as the three distinct versions of what was heard. The different versions come from different education, different upbringing and different beliefs. Let this guide help you when:

It appears someone is not listening


It appears you are not communicating

If more of us would genuinely take the time to truly listen with the right attitude as well as with educated and open ears the world would become a much better place to live for there would be considerably less misunderstanding. What a nicer world this would be.

Best of LUCK as you
Labor Under Correct Knowledge…


Rick Cox