Well known are the Berean Jews cited in Acts 17. They were more fair-minded / noble / of higher stature than those in Thessalonica. “They received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” – 17:11. The Bereans were commended for their approach to God’s Word, unlike the Thessalonians who were resistant. What can we glean from the example of the Bereans as we sit week by week under the ministry of the scriptures –
Receptivity – the Bereans received the Word as it was taught. Their attitude was one of fair mindedness, meaning there was no intellectual or spiritual snobbery in them. They didn’t turn off because they saw themselves as already well informed. They were not suspicious or critical as those looking to find fault in what they heard.
Readiness – the Bereans received the Word eagerly (with all-readiness). They were not only fair minded and willing to hear, they were keen to learn. Some people like information for the sake of having information; some like hearing new things; some enjoy listening to eloquence and sophistry. The Bereans wanted to grow in spiritual knowledge for the building up of their souls.
Research – the Bereans heard, they received, and they searched. They were not content to be spoon fed but recognised the need to personalise the truth for themselves. Preachers can be skilled in oratory using good illustrations, examples, and application, but are they faithfully presenting the mind of God from the scriptures? The Bereans examined the Word to ensure they were taught correctly. Being keen to learn from the ministry of others does not equate to laziness or gullibility.
Good preaching and teaching are of no value apart from good listening. For those who profit little from the ministry of the Word, it could be the fault of the person ministering, on the other hand, it could be because they are more at home in Thessalonica than Berea.
In order to be of that Berean spirit, there must be an appreciation of truth and the desire to be blessed by it. This necessitates several important characteristics. We need humility. Humility is to be teachable; it is to recognise that we don’t know everything. Only the teachable learn. We need honesty. Honesty means that we accept what the Bible teaches even if it goes against the grain. Honesty goes hand in glove with humility in that there is willingness to be corrected. We will not receive the Word with all readiness if it is met by a barrier of inflexible attitudes and opinions. We need courage. Courage is to stand firm on what is true though it may cost us dearly. There is no value learning, if in the end we are more concerned to please others than God.
May the Lord grant to us faithful preaching and teaching. And may the Lord grant to us faithful listening – Berean listening.