Some commands of Scripture are life and eternity-shaping. One such command is found in Luke 8:18:
“Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
What does this mean? Robert Stein explains:
“…the concern is not wealth or possessions but rather the revelation of God. The person who has listened carefully to God’s word will understand it even more clearly, but the person who does not pay heed to how he or she hears God’s word will lose even that which they think they know. Careful hearing, i.e., heeding, results in greater understanding of God’s revealed word; careless hearing, i.e., a lack of heeding, results in the loss of what has been heard.”
This verse comes soon after the Parable of the Soils in Luke 8:4–15, a parable that stresses the importance of hearing the word of God by describing how three types of people (represented by soils) ultimately don’t receive the word or eternal life.
We can draw several practical applications from this verse and its context.
1. Take care to not let temptations, worries, riches, or pleasures of life choke out true faith (13–14).
This makes taking care how you hear a continual thing, because truly receiving the word requires obedience to it. “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21). Which of these (temptations, worries, riches, or pleasures) draw you from the Lord? How might you prayerfully change course?
2. Receive the word of God “in an honest and good heart”, bearing “fruit with patience” (15).
We need to earnestly and continually desire to hear and heed the word—because initial joy in receiving the word is not an indicator of truly receiving it.
Closely tied to the first application, this might be juxtaposed by saying that we must constantly steer our heart toward the right attitude/state of mind and away from what hinders reception of the word.
3. We need understanding of the word, because hearing alone is not enough.
Jesus, quoting Isaiah 6:9–10, explains the purpose of parables is to hide understanding of the word from some who hear it. This allows Christ to say the disciples have been “given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God” (10).
This means when we read the Bible (or listen to a sermon), we must understand what Scripture is actually saying, not what you want it to be saying. The discipline of reading (or listening) will do us no good if it is not paired with a level of real understanding. There are no shortcuts, and growing in our knowledge and understanding is a lifelong pursuit. “…For to the one who has [understanding], more will be given…”
Suggested resources for a deeper understanding of Scripture:
- Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God’s Word by Nigel Benyon and Andrew Sach
- Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul
- The Gospel Transformation Study Bible
4. Pray for the Spirit’s illumination.
Engaging Scripture isn’t easy, but God has given us His Spirit to guide us into all truth and reveal Christ (John 16:13–15). We must rely on God’s help for understanding. The Spirit’s illumination combined with hard work in study will pay off. Consider Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, ” Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7).