There is a deep and intense hunger in our souls. We know we need to fill our hungry ears with that which will sustain and strengthen us. The problem is that we are impatient. We want instant fulfillment. We want fast-food answers that satisfy us and we are prone to jump at the first thing that makes us feel good.
Our hungry ears become itching ears that cling to the first thing that makes them feel better. Itching is an irritation, while hunger is a yearning to be filled. Itching ears are irritated. Scratching an itch feels good but if you do it too much, infection sets in.
There is a deep anxiety that seeks anything that will bring relief. Itching ears don’t take the time or expend the energy to ensure the truth or usefulness of what they are hearing. They look for quick relief instead of long-term enrichment. Itching ears cling to what I call “junk food” teachings that only teach health, wealth, prosperity, and blessings. They neglect the life-sustaining bread of God’s Word that teaches the worth of persecution, the importance of endurance, and the necessity of increasing holiness. Rebukes and corrections do not satisfy itching ears, but they will serve as bread to the hungry soul.
Just like we have to take time to nourish our bodies, we have to slow down and take the time to seek out the necessary ingredients to nourish our souls. Paul tells us in 2 Tim. 3:16, “All scripture is inspired by God.” So, every time we have the opportunity to hear God’s Word, we should take it in urgently, hungrily, and reverently. We may differ on interpretation but we do so with reverence. We, who are hungry for sustaining nourishment for our souls can’t jump to convenient interpretations that only scratch an itch. As people hungry for true nourishment, we must work to learn the context in which the scripture was written, as well as the intended audience.
Why shouldn’t we give into that which we know will make us feel good and draw in the crowds? Why not give in to the easy fix that satisfies us right now and that scratches our itch? Though these messages feel good when we hear them, they bring false and incomplete hope. They shelter us from the hard truths of the world and fail to prepare us for the suffering we all must one day endure. Teachings that do not challenge us, hold us back from growing stronger in our faith and closer to God.
Paul tells Timothy to “continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.” To continue learning about what you believe, your faith has to be on a firm foundation. If you trust the foundations of our faith, why not continue to urgently seek more of the truth to fill your hungry ears? Why settle for shallow words that make you feel good for a moment when you know you need more? We have to keep learning the things of God to get and stay spiritually healthy.
The truth is hard to hear sometimes because it cuts to the depths of our souls. Just as it is easy to give in to junk food when we are hungry, it’s easy to give in to quick sound bites and flowery words that make us feel good. Putting in the effort to seek nourishment instead of scratching an itch reaps long-term benefits for one’s soul. We have to be concerned about the long-term effects on our souls. As continuing to scratch an itch causes infection, and a constant diet of junk food is harmful to our bodies, a constant diet void of deep and challenging truths from the Word of God infects our souls and weakens our spirits.
If you are not taking in every opportunity to hear and learn from God’s Word, start small but start now. Take notes in the sermons you attend with the expectation that God has something for you within each message. Each week, we hear the Scriptures. Listening with hungry ears will bring nourishment to your soul.
If the words of the hymns do not excite you, slow down and take the time to understand them. I promise that if you think about what you are singing, you won’t be able to help but sing with more strength and volume. In our hymns, we remember in Whom (we) Have Believed,) that the “Word is a Lamp” to our feet, that the Scriptures contain “Wonderful Words of Life.” Our hymns nourish our souls by reminding us of our victory in Jesus, of God’s Amazing Grace, and of so much more.
There must be an urgency with which we approach our time together every Sunday. There must be an urgency to come to fellowship, to go to the table, to sing to God, and to hear the Words of God. We take in Scripture knowing it has an essential purpose: to make us “proficient, equipped for every good work.”
While it is tempting and easy to give in to teachings and experiences that make us feel good at the moment, we have to put in the hard work necessary to satisfy our hungry ears and nourish our souls. We have to keep learning the things of God to get and stay spiritually healthy.
The lure may be strong to run to fast-food doctrines. Fear, anxiety, and busyness can cause you to settle for other things that do nothing more than scratch and itch. As Jim comes to lead us in our closing hymn, please hear and receive this invitation. Slow down, come to God, and pray. Pray that the itch turns into a hunger. Pray that God restores your hunger for that which is holy. Pray that God awakens the desire to come more often to church, to sing the hymns with joy and strength, to receive Jesus’ invitation to come to His table, to see every part of the service as an act of worship and to take every opportunity to listen and learn from the Word of God.
Scripture Reference: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5