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Selective Attention

"Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember?"1

The story is told of a man who once bought a new radio, brought it home, and placed it on the refrigerator. He then plugged it in, turned it to WSM in Nashville (home of the Grand Ole Opry), and proceeded to do the most unusual thing. He pulled all the knobs off! He had already tuned in to all he ever wanted or expected to hear, and so he chose to limit his radio reception to one station.

"Most unusual," we call it. But is it? Really? Many, if not most of us, if we will be honest, do the same thing in principle. Maybe not with our radios but we surely do with our lives.

We all have what the communicators call selective exposure, selective attention, selective comprehension or perception, selective distortion, and selective retention. That is, people expose themselves only to messages they want to receive; hear only what they want to hear; perceive or see things the way they want to see them; twist and distort messages to match their preconceived perception of reality; and they remember only what they want to remember. Everything else is filtered or blocked out.

In other words, we hear, see, accept, remember, and apply only that which we want to hear, see, accept, remember and apply. Furthermore we believe only what we want to believe—and for many of us we choose to believe that which is convenient—regardless of its moral or lack of moral value. For instance, people accept abortion on face value because it is convenient. They accept abnormal, immoral sexuality because it, too, is convenient. And they reject God because, more often than not, they don't want to change their lifestyle and be accountable, much more than for any intellectual reason.

As I've said before, if we don't live the life we believe, we will end up justifying and believing the life we live—a very dangerous, self-deceptive, and self-destructive path to follow.

God's laws, all of them, are for our safety, protection, and survival. They are as universal as the law of gravity which holds the universe together. We can't break the law of gravity. If we defy it, it will break us. Or rather, we will break ourselves trying to defy it. It's the same with God's moral laws. We can't break them either. They, too, are universal. If we defy them, it isn't God who will punish and break us, but rather we will punish and break ourselves trying to defy them. If we used our God-given intellectual reasoning we would understand this. But we don't reason this way—we reason to find ways to justify what is most convenient for us at any given moment.

How soon we forget that "blessed is the nation [and individual] whose God is the Lord!" And as Jesus said, "Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember?"

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, open my eyes and give me a listening, receptive heart so that I will see, hear, remember, obey and live according to Your words of eternal life. Thank You for Your word  and for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."

1. Jesus in Mark 8:18 (NIV).


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.