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Monday, July 25, 2011

Hearing and Measuring

Hearing and Measuring

"Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you." Mark 4:24 (ESV)

The King James Version of this verse more accurately follows the original Greek:

"Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given." Mark 4:24 (KJV)

The emphasis of this verse is upon hearing with understanding. Jesus earlier ended a message to a crowd by saying, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Mark 4:9)

The disciples of Jesus lacked understanding, just as much as the crowd. They asked Him to explain why he spoke obscurely, using symbolic stories or parables, rather than plain, simple language. His answer indicated that the stories were a proof or test:

"To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven." (Mark 4:11-12)

Only those whom God has chosen to be in His kingdom will understand the message of Christ. Only those who belong to Christ will be given spiritual understanding.

Yet the hidden meaning of what Christ was saying was meant to be understood by all. Jesus later said, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." (Mark 4:21-22)

This passage describes a spiritual principle: Accepting what is given, allows more to be given. Jesus offers a message in the form of a parable. Those who accept the message as important, as something valuable, even though they might not understand it, are moved to ask Jesus for more, and He responds by giving spiritual understanding.

However, those who scorn the parable as nonsense, as something unneccesary to understand, will reject Jesus. They will not ask for more, and He will withhold spiritual understanding. What little was offered to them will be taken away entirely.

This principle is strengthened by a reference to judging others. If we see or hear of behavior of others that seems to be wrong or confusing, we must immediately decide upon a standard of behavior against which we can judge that of others. If we choose a standard based upon God's perspective, a rule of behavior established by God's revealed will, our judgement or measurement of the actions of others will be with spiritual understanding and wisdom from God.

However, if we use arbitrary, biased standards established by human nature or fleeting cultural traditions, our judgement or measurement will be flawed. We will judge others without spiritual understanding, without wisdom.

Every circumstance in life that we encounter is a "parable" from God. God Almighty, Sovereign Ruler of every detail of our lives, orchestrates events and circumstances designed to ultimately glorify Himself and bring us to complete enjoyment in Himself.

If we accept these "parable-events" as a message from God, as something important and necessary, even when we don't understand the purpose or intent, God will give us more: more wisdom, more understanding, more joy.

However, if we scorn these "parable-events", regarding them as random circumstances or even deliberate attacks upon us by God, or at best, evidence of His lack of concern, we will suffer loss: loss of wisdom, loss of understanding, loss of joy.

Pay attention to what you hear (and what happens to you): the standard by which you judge what you hear (and see) will determine how that message (or circumstance) will benefit you. Honest dependence upon God for wisdom will result in joyful understanding. Scornful rejection or bitterness will result in increased dullness and ignorance.

If I forgive someone for offensive actions against me, I will gain forgiveness for my offensive actions against others. If I hate someone for their offensive actions, I will lose forgiveness for my offensive actions.

God, give my Your wisdom.

Image courtesy of michaelaw