As a child, I invoked my share of parental correction. Dad’s belt was no stranger to me. Not that I loved to disobey, but I usually became distracted during my chores. On the way to feed the chickens, I might spy a pink hula-skirt mimosa flower and begin spinning it between my fingers. Then I would start throwing horse apples into the pasture. I’d go to the house to wash the sticky horse apple “milk” off my hands. While washing my hands I would decide to make water balloons to douse my brother. The day often continued this way until Mom or Dad found out that I had neglected to feed the chickens. Enter Correction.
I can hear Dad explaining why the chickens need to be fed every day and how I did not listen to him. During this part of the pre-spanking lecture he often used the phrase, “In one ear and out the other.” I guess parents have been using this phrase since Adam and Eve walked the earth. It means, “Through the mind, but leaving no impression; as though a sound traveled through a tube passing through the skull leaving no evidence of its passing” (Charles Earle Funk, 2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings & Expressions, p. 593). It is to hear and not heeded.
Hananiah let the Word of God “go in one ear and out the other.” Jeremiah wore a yoke of bondage to illustrate Judah’s seventy years of captivity (Jer. 27:2). Hananiah claimed that the captivity would be only two years instead of seventy (Jer. 28:2-3). Jeremiah rebuked Hananiah, but he refused to hear the message and broke the Jeremiah’s yoke (28:10). By refusing to hear the message, He allowed the Word of God to “go in one ear and out the other.”
Spiritual destruction comes to those who allow the Word of God pass without letting it make its impression. Jesus said to the Jews, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. . .. Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God” (Jno. 8:43,47). Folks today let the truth of God “go in one ear and out the other.” Tracts, bulletins and papers that contain truth are often tossed away. The Bible is read, but the lack of meditation lets it leak out like air from a punctured tire. Sermons pass through the skull unhindered and uninterrupted. They are pearls cast before swine (Matt. 7:6).
Hearing and heeding is imperative (Jas 1:22; Rev 1:3). Hearing without doing is like a man who forgets what he looks like. But many are content to do just that. They do not think twice about letting God’s instructions “go in one ear and out the other.”
So, the goal of Bible study is to make the Word stick between the ears. It takes wisdom to mix a message with the proper type of glue to get it to stick. Different people take different adhesives; What works on Joe, may not work on Sue or Sally. Some need shocking news, a valid argument, a simple point, or a hit on the head. Sadly, some have teflon brains and nothing will get them to see the truth.
Too often, Christians see one method not sticking and they conclude staying with it for forty years will fix it. Is it laziness, a lack of wisdom, a lack of study, or a combination of these that leads some to become entrenched in ineffective methods? Christians will be judged for how they teach as well as what they teach. Let’s strive to find effective ways to make the Word stick, so it doesn’t just go in one ear and out the other (Matt 10:16).