“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
What does Paul mean when he writes “when ye received the word of God … ye received it not as the word of men…”? This almost sounds like double-talk. In reality, it is two different words in the Greek language.
The first use of the word “received” is the Greek word “paralambano” = an objective, outward receiving, to take from another. The second usage of “received” is the Greek word “dechomai” = an inward, subjective receiving, an accepting or welcoming. In other words, one can receive a message only with one’s ears, or one can receive it and welcome it into their heart.
Paul was thankful that when he came to Thessalonica to preach the Word of God, the Thessalonians didn’t just take the message into their ears, but welcomed it into their hearts. They were doers of the Word, and not hearers only (James 1:22).
A young man was sitting in his living room watching television when he heard his father ask him to take out the garbage. “Okay,” he said, and then sat there for another hour. Did he hear it with his ears? Yes. Did he embrace it with his heart? No!
A couple had dated for months and the young lady was wondering if he would ever get around to asking for her hand in marriage. One night they went out to eat at a very romantic restaurant with candles burning and violins playing. He looked at her and said, “Sweetheart, may I ask you a question?”
“Certainly,” she said, feeling excited. “
Could you please pass me the salt and pepper?”
“Oh, okay, here it is,” she said.
“One more thing,” he said. “Will you marry me?”
“Oh, yes!” she said, as she threw her arms around his neck.
Did she hear it with her ears? Yes. Did she embrace it with her heart? Yes!
Did you know that many people hear the Word of God with their ears and that’s where it stops? They never welcome it into their hearts. In fact, some people can come to church year after year and God’s Word is heard, but it never changes their hearts or their lifestyle. Why is that? Because we need to receive God’s Word with faith. We must believe that this Word is not the words of mere men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God.
“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2).
We must always approach God’s Word with the attitude that God has a personal message suited just for “me.” Let us not just hear it with our ears, or as the common expression has it, “in one ear and out the other.” Rather, let us put out the welcome mat when the Word of God is read or preached and embrace it with our hearts.
How do you hear the Word of God?