Consider carefully what you hear

'Consider carefully what you hear,' he continued. 'With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.' (Mar 4:24–5)

The way of salvation

Every word of Jesus is important to us. Peter said: 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (Joh 6:68).' Jesus came from the Father to declare to mankind the way of salvation, so we should pay careful attention to everything he said.

Old Covenant symbolism

The covenant God made with his people through Moses was rich in symbolism. God said that of all the animals living on land, only those that chewed the cud were to be considered clean and could be eaten (Lev 11:3). What was the meaning of the regulation? Chewing the cud symbolized thoughtful consideration of his Word.

Have you watched animals chewing the cud? After grazing they sit down quietly, regurgitate what they've eaten and chew it over again before swallowing it. The second chewing aids digestion and assimilation of the nutrients. It makes them look as though they are deep in thought or meditating on something.

Compare that to the way a pig eats (an unclean animal) and you will see the point being made. God wants us to think about his Word, to chew it over, and to consider it carefully in our hearts.

With the measure you use

'With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more.' (Mar 4:24)

The more effort we put into seeking to understand spiritual truth, the more spiritual truth will be revealed to us. God rewards those who earnestly seek him (Mat 7:7–8; Heb 11:6). And we don't have to be Bible teachers to understand spiritual truth. The psalmist declared:

I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. (Psa 119:99)

The Hebrew word translated insight means insight, understanding, comprehension. The psalmist had more insight into and understanding of God's Word than all his teachers because he meditated on (spent time thinking about) it. The Holy Spirit indwells every believer, and it's the Holy Spirit who gives us understanding of the truth.

Jesus said:

'…when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.' (Joh 16:13)

The Greek word translated guide means lead, guide, explain. The Holy Spirit wants to lead us into, and explain to us, all truth. We, for our part, need to apply ourselves to the Scriptures—to think deeply about them—so he can do that for us.

Whoever does not have

'Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.' (Mar 4:25)

It's possible for everyone who has understanding of the Word to gain even more, providing they apply themselves to it. In fact the potential for every believer is to have an abundance of understanding (Mat 13:11–2).

But what did Jesus mean when he said that whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him? He was repeating a truth he'd taught in the Parable of the Sower earlier in the chapter.

In that parable he said that some people are like seed along the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them (Mar 4:15). That happens because they haven't understood it (Mat 13:19).

Jesus was talking about those who have not been chosen for salvation, so they cannot understand the word when they hear it (1Co 2:14). Satan then comes and takes what they had (the word they heard) from them. God's Word can only be understood by those he has chosen to save because they, alone, have his Spirit to give them understanding.

Do not lose what you have

But even though unbelievers cannot lose what they've never had (understanding of the truth), believers can lose what they have had (understanding of the truth).

Pro 19:27 says:

Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

It's a solemn fact that if we stop reading and studying the Word of God our knowledge of the truth, and its influence on our lives, begins to fade; that is what happens to backsliders. God wants us to be continually growing in the knowledge and understanding of the truth

…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ. (Eph 4:13)

Spiritual maturity—understanding the truth and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us into the likeness of Christ through it (2Co 3:18)—is God's will for every believer.

Laziness in spiritual matters

In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus said that the servant who had not used the sum of money he'd been given was wicked and lazy and would be thrown outside into the darkness where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Even what he had would be taken from him (Mat 25:14–30).

What ever else we've received from the Lord to use in his service, we've each been given the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.

The problem the servant in the parable had was his laziness: he didn't use what his master had given him. Are we being lazy in spiritual matters? Are we applying ourselves to the Scriptures so the Holy Spirit can lead us into all truth? Only we can answer those questions, in our hearts, before the Lord.

Michael Graham
September 2003
Revised September 2017

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®. NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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