The Responsibility of the Hearer

The listener has a great responsibility in preaching. Observe the attitude and action of the Bereans in Acts 17:10-11: “Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

We are to consider how our lives compare to the Word, not resisting the preaching by making excuses or rationalizing sinful behavior. We must prepare our minds and hearts for the lesson, ready to apply it so that we can serve God more faithfully. It is not enough to just sit quietly and listen to the sermon; we must act accordingly based on what we learn. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25).

We also have a responsibility to make sure the preacher is staying on track, that he is not preaching doctrine that contradicts the revealed Word. We should study along with the lesson, not just accepting what the preacher says, but verifying that his message is in agreement with God’s inspired Word.

Men who commit their lives to gospel preaching take on an important work; we should be as supportive of them as we possibly can. As long as they preach the truth we should encourage them at every opportunity. Show them that we are listening by turning to the Scriptures during the sermon, by taking notes, by putting their words into action in our everyday lives. Tell them how much we appreciate the sacrifice they have made to serve God.

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