“To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use parables. For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.” — Matthew 13:12-13
To the general public, tax benefits top the list of why people give to charity. But is that what motivated Joan Kroc to leave an estate gift of $1.5 billion to the Salvation Army—one of the largest gifts to a single organization?
In a 1998 article reporting how Joan Kroc gave $80 million that year to the Salvation Army’s San Diego Corps for a community center, Joan recalled how her husband used to dress up as Santa Claus during the holidays and ring the bell for Salvation Army donations on the streets of San Diego.
Sure, the Krocs had known wealth, but what did the Salvation Army do to motivate what were at the time the two largest gifts the organization had ever received?
Certainly, they valued their relationship with the Krocs. They likely involved them in important discussions of key direction. More important, when Joan and Ray talked, they surely listened.
It’s easy to sit up, listen, and take note when you have the billionaire founder of the McDonald’s empire sitting before you. People of that stature are incredibly astute, engaging, and offer tremendous insight into business and life’s lessons.
But what treasures would you cultivate—how would you benefit—if at every contact with the Word of God you gave the kind of attention that the business world would give to one such as a Ray Kroc?
We have one greater than Ray Kroc before us. He is the matchless, unequaled Lord Jesus Christ! He has eternal treasures of truth to share with all who will listen–listen with their heart.
Jesus shared in this passage in Matthew that there are weighty consequences to how we listen. Listening (with the intent to obey) brings multiplied blessing in knowledge. Not listening brings multiplied barrenness. We either expand or deplete our capacity to retain truth by the way we listen.
The energy of God is never wasted. Jesus spoke in parables to engage and enlighten the hearts of the faithful and to confound and condemn the hearts of the faithless. But even in the teaching of the parables, God has always given man a choice. If we choose to listen, we are blessed, if we choose not to listen we are left in our ignorant and untransformed state.
God is still speaking. He is still teaching in the everyday circumstances of our lives. Will you hear Him? You and I must hear His Word before we will ever understand our lives. So, be careful little ears what you hear!