‘And He spake many things unto them in parables., saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow…’ Mark 13:3
There are various ways to hear the Word of God without benefit.
We may litem to a sermon with a heart like the hard ‘wayside’: careless, thoughtless and unconcerned. Christ crucified may be affectionally set before us, and we may hear of His sufferings with utter indifference, as a subject we have no interest. Fast as the words fall on our ears, the devil may pluck them away, and we may go home as if we have heard no sermon at all. Alas, there are many such hearers! It is as true of them as idols of old, ‘eyes have they, but they see mot; They have ears, but they hear not’ (Ps 135:16-17).
We may listen to a sermon with pleasure, while the impression produced on us is only temporary and short-lived. Our hearts, like the ‘stony ground’, may yield a plentiful crop or warm feelings and good resolutions; but all this time there may be no deeply rooted work in our souls, and the first cold blast of opposition or temptation may cause our seeming religion to whither away. Alas, there are many such hearers! The mere love of sermons is no sign of grace. Thousands of Baptized people are like the Jews of Ezekiel’s day: ‘thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not’ (Ezek 33:32).
We may listen to a sermon, and approve of every word it contains, and yet get no good from it, in consequence of the absorbing influence of this world. Alas, there are many such hearers!They know the truth well: they hope one day to be decided Christians; but they never come to the point of giving up all for Christ’s sake. They never make up their minds to ‘seek first the Kingdom of God’–and so die in their sins.
Bishop J.C. Ryle