May 8, 2021•717 words
If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
24 And He was saying to them, “Beware what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you, and more will be given to you.
Hearing the truth is one principal avenue through which grace is conveyed to the soul of man. Faith comes from hearing (Romans 10:17). One of the first steps towards conversion is to receive from the Spirit a hearing ear. Seldom are men brought to repentance and faith in Christ without hearing. The general rule is that of which Paul reminds the Ephesians: You also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed (Ephesians 1:13).
Let us bear this in mind when we hear preaching decried as a means of grace. There are never lacking men who seek to cast it down from the high place which the Bible gives it. There are many who proclaim loudly that it is of far more importance to the soul to hear liturgical forms read and to receive the Lord’s Supper than to hear God’s Word expounded. Of all such notions let us beware. Let it be a settled principle with us that hearing the Word is one of the foremost means of grace that God has given to man. Let us give to every other means and ordinance its proper value and proportion. But never let us forget the words of Paul: Do not despise prophetic utterances (1 Thessalonians 5:20), and his dying charge to Timothy: Preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2). 
We learn, secondly from these verses, the great importance of right hearing. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ ought to impress that lesson deeply on our hearts. He says, “Take care how you listen.”
The degree of benefit which men receive from all the means of grace depends entirely on the way in which they use them.
Private prayer lies at the very foundation of religion. Yet the mere formal repetition of a set of words when the heart is far away does good to no man’s soul.
Reading the Bible is essential to the attainment of sound Christian knowledge. Yet the mere formal reading of so many chapters as a task and duty without a humble desire to be taught of God is little better than a waste of time.
Just as it is with praying and Bible reading, so it is with hearing the Word preached. It is not enough that we go to church and hear sermons. We may do so for fifty years and not [be] helped at all, but rather . . . [grow] worse. “Take care,” says our Lord, “how you listen.”
Would anyone know how to hear aright? Then let him lay to heart three simple rules:
For one thing, we must hear with faith – believing implicitly that every word of God is true and shall stand forever. The Word in old time did not profit the Jews because it was not united by faith in those who heard (Hebrews 4:2).
For another thing, we must hear with reverence – remembering constantly that the Bible is the book of God. This was the habit of the Thessalonians. They received Paul’s message not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
Above all, we must hear with prayer – praying for God’s blessing before the sermon is preached, and praying for God’s blessing again when the sermon is over.
Here lies the grand defect of the hearing of many. They ask no blessing – and so they have none. The sermon passes through their minds like water through a leaky vessel and leaves nothing behind!
Let us bear these rules in mind every Sunday morning before we go to hear the Word of God preached. Let us not rush into God’s presence in a careless, reckless, and unprepared manner as if it did not matter in what way such work was done. Let us carry with us faith, reverence, and prayer. If these three are our companions, then we shall hear with profit and return with praise. 
 J.C. Ryle, ‘Expository Thoughts on Mark’
 J.C. Ryle, ‘Expository Thoughts on Luke’