“Take care what you hear”

earWhat does the Lord Jesus mean when he tells us to “take care what you hear” (Mark 4:24)?

First and foremost, He intends for us to hear the Word of God. God has spoken to us in Christ. We must hear Him, receiving Him into our souls with faith and love.

Perhaps the Lord also means that we must be careful how we hear other people. When they speak, what do we hear?

Every once in a while, a person lies so blatantly that we can no longer trust his or her word. When he or she speaks, we hear the words, but we do not believe them.

Such cases, though, are rare. Usually we do not have the clear proof of intentional deceit that we would need in order to judge another person to be a liar.

Trust! --Jesus
Trust! --Jesus
We may nonetheless be tempted to doubt the sincerity or good intentions of others. We might be inclined to parse their words, to infer motives and hidden schemes.

Maybe I have a tendency to doubt what people say to me in general. Maybe I am a suspicious person, inclined to be cynical about my fellow man.

The Lord is telling us not to do this.

Absent clear proof of deceit, we should take people at their word. We should believe what they say and assume that they have good intentions. If they say something hard to understand, we should give it the best possible interpretation.

The saints—no fools—have always been willing to be thought naïve. It is better to trust a liar than to distrust an honest man. If someone lies to me, he or she is going to have to answer to God for it—not me. If I suffer on earth because I trusted a liar, then I can offer my suffering as a worthy sacrifice for the glory of God. To be duped because I gave my brother the benefit of the doubt gives me a little share in the Lord’s cross.

handshakeWhen dealing with other people, my goal should always be to see them as the Lord sees them. He sees all the potential for good, and He forgives all the bad and forgets about it.

This is not optional. Trusting others is part of the service we owe God. The Lord uses us as His instruments in bringing the best out of people. When you or I assume the best about someone else, the person is more inclined to be honest.

God will vindicate all truth in the end. He will reward honesty and punish deceit. He knows all and will judge all fairly. In the meantime, let’s take a chance on honesty and goodness and purity. Let’s join the naive people. We will have good company in heaven if we do.

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