We have selective auditory capacity. We literally choose to hear only what we want to hear. It works visually as well.
Proof positive? I can call my kids to come do a chore, and they claim (after I storm into their presence irritatedly) that they never heard me. However, if it’s time to eat or go somewhere fun, they show up before I finish saying, “Let’s go.” In the same way, our son can walk by discarded dirty clothes on the floor for a week without being able to see them.
Sounds like normal kids and teens, doesn’t it?
It’s unfortunate that we perpetuate our selectivity into “maturity.” If someone speaks truth to us that we don’t want to hear or consider its implications, we “turn a deaf ear.” We conveniently “overlook” significant issues that might make us uncomfortable.
The reverse is also true. We voraciously consume flattery. We love to hear from others anything that might make us feel good, smart, funny or good-looking. I hear less and less of the latter…
It’s a problem that’s been around a long time. In the New Testament letter of 2 Timothy, chapter 4, verse 3, its’ recorded:
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
Hearing what we want to hear is a contagious disease that inflates our egos. With this perverse selection of unreality, we can truly not discern truth after a time. We construct a play world with ourselves at the center, and only what lifts us up reaches our ear drums.
The age-old adage for news reporters is a good guide here:
“Consider the source.”
For instance, if someone with extremely poor vision, wearing coke-bottle-lens glasses bragged to you about your looks… while looking slightly off into the distance… you would probably discount their compliment. And wisely so.
It’s the same for whatever else you’re allowing into your selection. Consider the source. Is what you want to hear coming from someone you would trust with your life? Are those whose compliments you dine on truly speaking significance into your life? Or do they turn around and utter the same banalities to the next person they want to impress?
The good news? There is Some One who will always speak truth into your life in a way that will benefit and bless you – even if it’s not what you initially want to hear.
What you want to hear only matters if it comes from the right source.