This morning I was showering, then as I got out and dried off I noticed the QTip box that sits on the shelf where the rest of my stuff like deodorant and hair dryer sit. On the box it has a warning: Do Not Enter Ear Canal. I thought to myself, “That’s funny, I wonder what percentage of people would admit to only using QTips for their ears?” Then I thought of the childhood song “O be careful little eyes what you see” when it addresses O be careful little ears what you hear.
This is such an important lesson for us as Christians because we have the potential to hear so much that can be uplifting, and we have so much we can hear that is downright untruthful and harmful to us. The idea of hearing what God has to say was a very pertinent message that Jesus had when he said, “Whoever has ears, let them here” (Matt 11:15; 13:9; 13:43; Mark 4:9; 4:23; Luke 8:8; 14:35; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9). Jesus’ kingdom is coming and we need to be listening and living like he has called us to.
Paul also exhorts young Timothy, in 2 Timothy 4:2-4 to:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
This is already something that is happened in our culture. People want to hear self-help, prosperity gospel, and success stories based on the reason and relative principles that are always fleeting and leaving people longing to hear the next best thing.
In the context of youth ministry it is very important that we not only speak the truth but that we speak full of grace as well. We need to model uplifting talk. I struggle with this sometimes as I like to be sarcastic or ironic at times. I’m not saying that it’s sinful, but I think that students get a lot of that everywhere else that our job should be to call them and ourselves to a higher standard. My friend Angela always does a great job at reminding people of this, which I highly appreciate. She quotes Ephesians 4:29 as an encouragement and I want to take this moment to challenge all of us to live up to it:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.