A speaker knows when your mind is on something else. You have a tendency to stare. Your eyes glaze over and you miss all the cues—everyone laughs but you don’t; people turn pages in their Bibles and yours sits in your lap untouched; an inappropriate smile creases your face after a serious and sober statement.
A speaker knows when you have somewhere to be right after services. You keep looking at your watch. You start patting your foot about 5 minutes before the usual ending time. You stack up your Bibles before he even begins the invitation and have the songbook ready as if you could actually rush the song leader through the invitation song.
A speaker knows when you are bored. You stop looking at him and start fiddling with things—doodling, flipping through your Bible or the song book, making notes about something even when he hasn’t clicked the Power Point or listed a passage.
A speaker knows when you disagree with him. You squint and pull that lower lip into a frown. You start rapidly flipping through your Bible and running your fingers down the pages looking for ways to contradict him. You cross your arms and huff. Sometimes you even shake your head for all to see.
A speaker knows when you are sick or just plain tired. You try your best to listen, but keep losing interest. You grimace. You touch your stomach or rub your head or try gallantly not to nod off, only to do so at least three or four times.
A speaker also knows when you are eagerly listening, trying your best to take in what he is saying and accommodate it to all the other things you have learned about that particular subject. He recognizes a lover of God’s Word and that person, and his fellows, are why he does what he does, week after week, no matter how few of you there might be.
Do you think God doesn’t know the same things about us? Sometimes I wonder. It doesn’t really matter what the preacher sees on our faces or in our actions. No matter how far back I sit, God still knows the heart I bring to His worship. He knows whether I am coming to please Him or to see how much everyone can please me. He knows whether I have a heart of repentance or one that just goes through the motions.
So this Sunday, be careful the tales you tell from your seat—even without opening your mouth.
“As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’ And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. Ezek 33:30-32