Did you hear about the fella who was discussing his recent visit to a church service? Someone asked him, ‘What did the preacher preach about?” To which he replied, “I don’t know. He didn’t say!” There could be at least a couple of reasons why a person could attend a religious meeting and come away without having received a meaningful message.
First, it might be that the listener didn’t do his job well. Perhaps he was distracted by other thoughts, and he daydreamed away the time while the preacher was trying to make his points. If this is the case, then more effort needs to be made to listen carefully, and to follow along with the sermon. It sometimes helps to take notes, and it certainly is helpful to look up Scripture references in your own Bible. Concentration is the key—and this is up to each individual hearer. Try to emulate the noble Bereans who “received the word with all readiness of mind” (Acts 17:11).
More often than not, the problem of a person not understanding the message lies with the speaker. It is the task of every preacher to work hard, prepare, plan, practice, and perform his duty in such a way to make his lesson plain and understandable. Paul, though discussing the miraculous manifestation of tongue speaking, made a point that is applicable here. He asked: “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor. 14:8). If the preacher doesn’t make his points clearly, and if people leave the assembly with doubts as to what was said or meant, then he has failed in his work.
The Jews who were returning from the captivity provide a great example for all of us (Neh. 8:1-8). “Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding . . . and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law . . . (Ezra) read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.”
We all must do our part in the important process of teaching and learning the Word of God.