“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” — Rev. 2:7
Jesus said these words–or something similar–a lot. In fact, in the book of Revelation, he repeated this phrase at some point in each of his messages to the seven churches.
The obvious conclusion is that not everyone has ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. In fact, when you hear people repeat this phrase, it is usually because they believe there is some difficult truth that most people are failing to comprehend. And sometimes that is the case.
But sometimes it’s not difficult truth we fail to comprehend–sometimes it’s glorious truth we fail to comprehend.
In the letters to the seven churches, Jesus said some hard things. He does say hard things at times. He says these things because he wants us to live out the reality of our identity in him. He wants us to be awake and alert to the things on his heart. He wants us to lay hold of the things it cost him so dearly to purchase. He wants us to rightly represent his character and nature to a broken and hurting world …
He wants us to live out his love.
So he corrects us when necessary. As any loving parent would. But he doesn’t just say hard things. In addition to words of correction, he actually commended most of the churches. And, interestingly, to the churches in Smyrna and in Philadelphia–he offered no correction at all. In fact, to the church in Philadelphia in particular, his words were filled with nothing but encouragement and comfort.
Yet to this church he still said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Sometimes I think it is harder to hear the good things God has to say about you, than it is to hear the difficult things.
It’s hard to hear the good things because we know we don’t deserve them. Apart from grace we have no place to stand before a holy God. Apart from grace, we have no claim to his affections and his mercy. But we’re not apart from grace. So if you have a hard time hearing the good things God has to say, there is a question you need to ask yourself …
Are you still trying to earn his approval?
You can’t. You can’t because–it’s finished. His acceptance–his approval–is already yours in Christ. And there is nothing–absolutely nothing–you can add to your salvation. There is nothing you can do to earn his amazing grace.
There is nothing you can do to escape his love.
As I was spending time with the Lord recently, he began to lavish encouragement and love upon me. My thirsty soul was lapping up every desperately needed word, but at one point–as he was telling me how uniquely special I was to him–I playfully said, “Oh Lord, you say those things to all of your kids!” His reply pierced my heart :
You’re right, I do. But not many can actually hear them. And of those who hear them, fewer still believe them.
That makes me incredibly sad. It makes me sad, because it makes him sad. And it makes him sad because it’s all too true. Few truly know the reality of amazing grace. Few truly know the extravagance of his goodness. Few truly know the absolute and unchanging certainty of his love and affections. As a result …
Few have ears to hear what the Spirit is really saying.
Oh Lord–it’s not okay! It’s not okay that so many can’t hear the words you are tenderly whispering to hearts that desperately need to taste your goodness and love. Expose the distortions and lies we believe about you and open many, many ears to hear what you are so passionately and patiently saying. In Jesus’ name, Amen.