Do Your Ears Hear with Annoyance?
A YOUNG man, deep in thought, was pounding away on his typewriter in an office overlooking New York city’s East River. Suddenly he heard a series of loud and strident blasts that nearly lifted him out of his seat. A freighter, preparing to leave its berth, was serving notice on all river traffic: “Watch out! Here I come!” No question about the ears of that young man hearing those blasts with annoyance. They had reason to!
Daily, almost, there are things that our ears hear with annoyance. The squeal of subway wheels as they round curves, the blowing of horns by impatient motorists, the pounding of the steampipes in the morning as the heat goes on, the pneumatic drills that rip up the paving or demolish old buildings. And all such is understandable.
Other things annoy by reason of their interruption. Having the phone ring so annoys many people in New York city that they are willing to pay six dollars annually to keep their names out of the telephone book. Having the doorbell ring so annoys others that they choose to live in exclusive apartments protected by liveried doormen. To them the price they pay for not being annoyed in these matters is worth it.
The ears of many people are annoyed each morning by their alarm clocks going off. But, although we hear that noise with annoyance, we heed its call and keep setting it each night. Why? Because we know that that annoyance is in our interests. We must get to work on time to keep our jobs and we must keep our jobs to keep on living!
But, unfortunately, not all persons are so realistic when it comes to hearing some new truth or truths that may at first annoy them. Then some are so thoughtless as to wholly ignore the “alarm clock,” while others go to the extreme of smashing it, as it were, rather than to heed its call. For example, the ears of the religious powers of Galileo’s day heard with such annoyance the truth that the earth was round that they not only refused to investigate it to see if it was true, but they arrested Galileo and even tortured his daughter to force him to recant; while his fellow astronomers refused to look into his telescope to prove for themselves that the moon was not as smooth as a billiard ball!
The Word of God gives us many instances of truth bearers who suffered persecution because their message was heard with annoyance. The sons of Israel had their burdens greatly increased because Pharaoh heard with annoyance the message that Moses brought to him from Jehovah. (Ex. 5:1-14) Jeremiah had his life threatened and was thrown into a miry dungeon because the rulers of his day heard with annoyance the message he brought them from their God. Yes, in times of old there were many who “received their trial by mockings and scourgings, indeed, more than that, by bonds and prisons. They . . . were in want, in tribulation, under ill-treatment,” all because the ears of those to whom they were sent heard with annoyance.—Heb. 11:36, 37.
How the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day heard with annoyance the message of the good news of God’s kingdom! So much so that they had no peace until they had impaled Jesus. But even then they had no peace, for Jesus’ followers took up his message. Thus we read regarding Stephen’s preaching: “At hearing these things they felt cut to their hearts and began to gnash their teeth at him.” And after hearing some more “they cried out at the top of the voice and put their hands over their ears and rushed upon him with one accord. And after throwing him outside the city they . . . went on casting stones at Stephen” until he fell “asleep in death.” No question about their ears hearing with annoyance the truth that Stephen brought them!—Acts 7:54-60.
Jehovah’s prophet Isaiah long ago foretold this tendency, and Jesus quoted his words: “For the heart of this people has grown thick, and with their ears they have heard with annoyance, and they have shut their eyes; that they might never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and get the sense of it with their hearts and turn back, and I heal them.”—Matt. 13:15.
Today in every field of human relations the truth is heard with annoyance. The ears of children, and especially the ears of teen-agers, hear with annoyance the wise counsel of their parents and schoolteachers. Segregationists hear with annoyance that God “made out of one man every nation of men.” (Acts 17:26) Smokers hear with annoyance the relationship between cigarette smoking and cancer. What folly to pursue courses such as these!
In particular do the ears of many persons foolishly hear with annoyance the message of God’s kingdom as brought to them by the witnesses of Jehovah. Its strangeness and its implications are unpleasant. It jolts them out of their sleep like their morning alarm clock; but rather than act wisely and heed the call, they ignore it. And so they pay the price. What price? Of failing to get the sense of it!
How can one “get the sense of it” if his ears hear with annoyance? He is unable to weigh the evidence properly because his emotions becloud his judgment. He may even be highly educated. So were many of the religious leaders in times past. Yet they were unable to get the sense of what they heard, because their ears heard with annoyance the messages that God’s prophets brought them. In other words, they allowed prejudice to make them deaf.
When anyone hears something with annoyance he is, in effect, “replying to a matter before he hears it,” and “that is foolishness on his part and a humiliation.” Do not let the strangeness of the message this magazine contains, or its implications, or the manner in which it was brought to you, or the time it takes to consider its pages, cause you to hear its message with annoyance, nor let what others say decide its merits for you. Prove for yourself, by reason and God’s Word, whether what you hear is the truth or not. Then make your decision.—Prov. 18:13.