by Tom Wacaster
This may seem like a strange title for this week’s article. Before I get to the point I want to make, let me tell you something about my little five pound poodle. Millie is eleven years old, and stands about eight inches tall. Although she occasionally barks at strangers, her bark is worse than her bite. I really think she is begging for attention. Millie loves to have her ears scratched. Occasionally she will climb up in the chair next to me, and position herself in such a way that my hand naturally lands across the top of her head. The natural inclination is to scratch her head and behind her ears. In response she will raise her head a notch or two in order to get the full effect of my hand scratching. Should I quit, she’ll either lift her head another notch or two, or turn and look at me as if to ask, “Why did you quit?” I came across this little observation relative to my personal experience:
Have you ever seen a dog that loved to have his ear's scratched? There are dogs that just love to have their ears scratched. They don't care who does it, as long as it is being done. This kind of dog will go up to anyone, just hoping that the person will reach down and scratch his ears. It doesn't matter if the person is his owner. It doesn't matter if the person is a complete stranger. This dog will just sit and let the person scratch his ears. If the person scratching stops, the dog will put his nose up to the person's hand indicating that he wants the person to continue scratching. If the person gets up and walks away, the dog will follow the person. The dog will continue to follow the person until the person finally decides to scratch again; unless, the dog can find someone else to scratch his ears. You see, the dog is not loyal to the first scratcher. He is just loyal to whoever will scratch his ears. He is not choosy about the kind of person scratching his ears. He only wants his ears scratched (author unknown)
The apostle Paul stressed the importance of preaching the word, whether in season or out of season: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Spiritually speaking, such individuals might be said to have “dog ears.” There are some observations that beg closer consideration.
First, those who have spiritual “dog ears” will not endure the truth. Their love for truth vanished long before their abandonment of the same. Because of their distaste for the spiritual milk that is without guile (1 Peter 2:2), they run recklessly after anyone who will scratch their spiritual ears. Tragically, such individuals bring upon themselves a spiritual hardening that blinds them to the truth and prepares them for the wiles of the devil. “And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thess. 2:11) simply because they “received not a love for the truth” (2 Thess. 2:10).
Second, there is no loyalty to the Master, but a heaping up of false teachers who will bow to their increasing demand of having someone scratch their spiritual “dog ears.” It matters not whether the truth is spoken – in fact there is an ever increasing abhorrence toward truth eventually leading to a willful exchange of the truth for a lie (Rom. 1:21-25). Heaping to themselves such false teachers, “they will accumulate a hand-picked little conglomerate of ‘clergy’ that will play any ‘fiddle tune’ that is requested” (Wayne Jackson).
Third, the motivation for such foolishness lies in their selfish desire to have their “ears scratched.” I have watched my dog, and other dogs for that matter, attack an “itch” with such vigor and vitality that one would think the ear might fall off. Humans are like that – occasionally I get an itch in a spot that I cannot reach with my arm or hand, and I search for some way to alleviate the discomfort. The desire to have one’s spiritual “dog ears” scratched in the manner here described by the apostle derives not out of a longing for the truth, but rather to fulfill one’s own desires and lusts (James 1:14).
Finally, spiritual “dog ears” that long to be scratched by whatever means available will lead a person to ruin. Things will go from bad to worse, and the end result is that the individual will find himself turning unto fables to satisfy the itch within. The Greek word here translated “fables” is ‘muthous’ and means “that which lacks the substance of reality.” I never cease to be amazed at the sophisticated silliness that men will embrace when once they have abandoned truth. In an effort to fill the “void” within they will believe almost anything – and the more bizarre, the greater the number who seem to follow such nonsense. No wonder that men have so widely embraced the foolish notion that a frog or tadpole can, given enough time, evolve into a man. Such tickles their ears and satisfies their inner stupidity!
It comes down to this: Each one of us has within our hearts a strong love for the truth, with ears attuned to the word of God, and motivated by no other desire than to please God. Or like the proverbial pooch that will follow anyone so long as they scratch their itch, they can only be described as those who have spiritual dog ears!