The Responsibility of Hearing by George H. Morrison

The Responsibility of Hearing
George H. Morrison
Mark 4:24

On the responsibility attaching to our speaking, our Lord was never weary of insisting. He has given a significance to human words which has altered their character forever. These syllables, invisible as air, are indestructible as adamant. They are the opposite of the snowflake on the river, which is "a moment white, then gone forever."1 According to the consistent teaching of our Lord, our words are shaping our eternal destiny, and by them as by the flower of the life, we shall be judged.

But if our Lord insists, as He does constantly, upon the responsibilities of speaking, we must never forget that with an equal emphasis He insists on the responsibilities of hearing. Often when He was beginning a discourse and sometimes when He was concluding a discourse, He would pause a moment and look around the company, and say, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." It was a solemn summons to reflection, flung out upon a crowd who were all listening-a sharp and swift reminder to His audience of the responsibility attaching to all hearing. There was a sense in which all heard alike, for when Jesus spoke, He lifted up His voice. Some carry the cross of ineffectual voices, but I do not imagine it was so with Him. But there was another sense in which every man who listened heard something a little different from his neighbor, and Christ was intensely aware of that divergence. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." All were listening, yet not all were hearing. Christ knew it intuitively and sympathetically. He read it in the look upon their faces. And so do we learn that He who felt intensely the responsibility which clings to speaking, felt, and often gave expression to, the responsibility which is attached to hearing.

In the parallel passage of St. Luke our text assumes a slightly different form. It is softened and toned down a little and becomes, Take heed how ye hear. Such an injunction as that is n ...

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