You’ve Gotta Know Who To Listen To

A good friend and mentor of mine used to always quote these lines from an Amy Grant song: “You’ve got to know who to, who not to listen to…” If you enjoy 80’s pop throw backs, I suggest you check it out. I can still hear my friend’s melodic sing-song way of communicating that timeless advice. But the question remains: How do I know who to and who not to listen to? It is more important than ever when we are bombarded with input every waking hour. All it takes these days to publish your message to the masses is an idea and an internet connection, your reach exponentially expanding if you also have a ring light and a cell phone camera.  

In our family we often talk about how to sift through the media that we experience everywhere. We know that things come into our home through TV, music, even though the advertisements we see at a bus stop. We ask a few key questions of the media in our lives: How does it make you feel? What does it make you think about? Is it in line with our values? Does it agree with the Bible? Sometimes things are an easy yes, some things are neutral, and some get a total no. We’re hoping to teach our children to discern who to and who not to listen to.  

The bridge of that Amy Grant song says:  

Everyone will have their words to say 
Find the words to help you find your way” 

The words to help you find your way are found in God’s Word – the Bible. You must be familiar enough with it to recognize when something is leading astray. Even if something makes you feel good or makes sense – the ultimate test is if it agrees with the Bible. It’s important to let the Bible filter things, not the other way around.  

Acts 17 has a great example for us as we follow Paul on a mission trip. They come into Thessalonica where Paul goes to the local Jewish community, laboring at the local synagogue for three weeks to explain who Jesus is and what He did. Some of the people are persuaded, but others cause trouble, and the believers send Paul away under cover of night. Paul and his travel companions come to the synagogue in the town of Berea and share with the people there. Here’s what verse 11 says about them:  

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” 


By comparison they were called noble in character because they were ready and willing to hear what Paul was saying. There seemed to be a critical culture in Thessalonica, where Paul was chased away because of jealousy. In Berea, Paul found a culture where the people were willing to listen and ask questions. This seems to be a way of life for this community, their eagerness indicates a sense of expectation. Perhaps they had heard of Paul already, or perhaps their previous studies of the Scriptures gave them great expectations for the Messiah.  

Have you ever tried to feed a toddler who doesn’t like the look of the food? It can be a trial to beg & plead, feats of making the spoon out to be an airplane or a train. You’ll go to great lengths to get a small amount of food into their mouths. The Thessalonians seemed to be a little like that, Paul had to spend time convincing and explaining just to finally reason with a few who accepted what he said. The Bereans were already hungry because they had tasted good spiritual food from the Scriptures. They recognized what Paul was saying and knew to go to the Scriptures to confirm it. Many of them believed it because they had an appetite for it. 

The Bereans EXAMINED the Scriptures…  

It wouldn’t have been easy for the Bereans to examine the Scripture daily. There was no printing press, the scriptures were hand copied on scrolls. No one had a family Bible in their homes or an app on a phone. To examine Scripture would have meant to go to the synagogue for public readings of Old Testament Scripture, to listen to debate and teaching from leaders & to engage in discussion with others. This required commitment and sacrifice that mostly happened within a community. They put what Paul was saying through the Bible filter and found that it was truth.  

How’s your Bible filter? I recently came across a self-evaluation for Bible Study that could be called ‘the Berean’s Test.’ Look at the following statements to see if these are true of you:  

  • I recognize the need to study the Bible. 
  • I study the Bible daily. 
  • I meditate on Bible verses through a daily devotional time and record how it applies to my life in a journal. 
  • I follow a plan to memorize Bible verses. 
  • When I have a problem, I go to the Bible to find answers. 
  • My prayer life is centered around the Bible.  
  • My goal is to know the Bible very well so I can put it into practice in my daily life. 
  • I am committed to learning how to study the Bible better using different Bible study tools & methods. 
  • I want to do my best to present myself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). 
  • I can point to changes in my life that are a result of studying God’s Word and obedience to its principles.1 

In our Coastal Church community, we have lots of opportunities to be like the Bereans. The final word at our services is Overtime where our Pastors discuss how to apply the message to our lives. We have Life Groups where we gather to discuss the Bible and pray together. We can use God’s Word to get greater healing and wholeness through Freedom Session. Those who are ready to dig even deeper can join Bible School with Coastal School of Missions or INSTE. All these things require us to make sacrifices and carve out time, but they are worth it so that we know who to listen to.