As I hover over some verses in Mark, two common sayings come to mind. One from my days in the business world, the other from the world at large. Back in the days when I drove to an office building every day, we’d often kid, “Yeah, the reward for taking on a lot of work is more work.” Conversely, it’s pretty common to hear folks from all walks of life concede that there seems also to be a life principle of “Use it or lose it.” Reminded this morning that there’s a biblical basis for both.
And [Jesus] said to them, “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. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
(Mark 4:24-25 ESV)
Pay attention to what you hear. That’s the “command to obey” which caught my eye this morning and had me grab for my purple colored-pencil and underline it.
Context? Jesus has just explained the parable of the sower and seed to “those around Him with the twelve” (4:10). He’s providing insider intel for those who have left the crowd and are wanting to follow at “the next level.” Those wanting more than just the signs and wonders but who hunger and thirst for the secrets of the kingdom. And the parable is about “the word.” The parable is about supernatural dynamics involving the soil of the heart, the truth of God’s word, and a fruitful harvest made possible by the two coming together.
So, says Jesus, because the word of God is the light of God — because a lamp is meant to shed light on darkness, to make manifest what was hidden, to bring to light what was once in secret (4:21-22) — pay attention to what you hear.
“Consider carefully” (NIV). “Take heed” (NKJV). “Listen carefully” (MSG). Or, as one literal translation mixes metaphors, “Keep ever a watchful eye on what you are hearing” (Wuest New Testament).
But more than just a command to obey for the sake of being obedient, it’s a command with a promise. And a warning. A command that reveals the workings of the kingdom’s economy. A dynamic which explains, at least in part, why some flourish while others seem to be stuck in perpetual famine. A dynamic which reminded me of those two common sayings. The more you do with the truth you’ve been given, the more truth you will be given. But it’s a use it or lose it proposition.
Truth used is truth multiplied. Truth ignored is truth lost.
To the degree we pursue truth, truth will be found. With the measure we use, it will be measured. The more we take in and then invest for the kingdom, the more which will be given by the kingdom. It ties with the law of the harvest, sow a lot and you’re gonna reap a lot. Not because you’re a great sower, not because it’s owed for your effort, but because that’s the way the kingdom works. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled (Matt. 5:6). And that filling serves to generate more hungering and thirsting. Which, in turn, will be filled as well. And, in turn again, creates a desire for more.
But carelessly dabble in truth, and eventually there’ll be a drought of truth. Play half-hearted games with God’s word, and eventually you’ll lose all interest in God’s word.
So, says Jesus, Pay attention to what you hear.
Only by God’s grace. Always for God’s glory.