Singapore, apparently, is a very noisy place. According to a recent report in Channel News Asia, all the sounds on the streets, from cars honking to jackhammering on construction sites, have raised the average sound level outdoors to 69.4 decibels—above the National Environment Agency’s recommended limit of 67 decibels, and close to the World Health Organization’s recommended cap of 70 decibels.
Even more worrying, the report noted that younger Singaporeans may suffer hearing loss early—as young as mid-40s. One possible cause is, ironically, not so much the higher levels of noise around Singapore, but listening to music at excessive volumes on headphones or in-ear devices. One expert noted that some music players can produce as much as 120 decibels. While it is common for us to suffer hearing loss as we get older, it seems that early hearing impairment can be avoided if we take more care not to expose our ears to loud music.
Yet it might seem that fewer people worry more about losing our eyesight than our hearing. Many of us visit the optician regularly to have our eyes checked. Fewer think of visiting the audiologist regularly for a hearing check. But it’s important because hearing loss is gradual. As a result of the wear and tear on hair cells in our inner ear, our ability to detect higher and lower frequencies, and lower volumes, will be affected.
This reminds me of our hearing of God’s Word. Proverbs 19 tells us: “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise” (v. 20). It also warns: “Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge” (v. 27).
These reminders from God made me ask myself: Do I get distracted by all the noise around me, such that I miss out on listening to God’s Word? Do I suffer from spiritual hearing loss because I have been tuning in to other louder sources of wisdom?
There have also been times when I realise that I have been hearing a good sermon, but not actually listening to it, and not responding in obedience. James 1:23–25 soberly reminds us that after listening to the Word, we need to put it into practice.
So my challenge is: Avoid distractions, spend more time listening to God’s Word, and do what it says.
Will you join me? —C.H. Tan
Lord, teach me to hear Your Word,
to spend more time listening to You,
and to be more obedient,
that I may gain Your wisdom.
God’s Word offers the best sound.