I watched a TED talk recently on languages. It started with the premise that by simply exhaling and making different shapes with my mouth, I can force you to have thoughts that you’ve never had before. Your brain can interpret patterns of vibrations in the air as meaningful concepts. I’ve never thought of speech along those lines before. I guess we also invented a way to encode those vibrations into shapes that we can put on paper and share thoughts via the written word. Language is pretty cool.
In fact, there must be some language that God uses that goes way beyond the coolness that we experience. “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” (Gen 1:3) Now that’s some language…
But, let me restate something: ”…your brain can interpret…” Interpretation is a very interesting phenomenon that is potentially dangerous. Misinterpretations are very common and have caused much of the controversy in the world. To avoid or minimize that danger, we need to rely on God’s spirit for discernment and correct interpretation.
In Mark 4, Jesus gives us, not just the parable of the sower and the seed, but some “insider info.” That is, the really important stuff – the stuff that will make or break us – will be delivered as a sort of puzzle to solve. We will need ears to hear, and not everyone “has” those ears. Just as the parable teaches, some people don’t hear, some people get distracted, some people can’t handle the pressure and some people actually LISTEN. Listening and understanding (correct interpretation) is God’s gift to us, but we need to claim it. His spirit, or our helper, is available to us on demand for this purpose.
He starts in verse 3 “Listen!” (or “Harken!” or “Behold!” or as other more modern and loose translations might have it, “Dude!”)
Then He gives the short parable (King James version is only 120 words….)
Then “… he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. “ (Mar 4:9)
But, to His apostles (and us…) He continues and explains His method of teaching “…so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.” (Mar 4:12)
Then He “deciphers” the parable. (He INTERPRETS it for us)
Then, it seems that He continues right into another short parable about light (don’t put your lamp under a basket…) which seems different (light not sound…) but I argue that they are the same. (eyes to see, ears to hear…)
Then He says in 4:23 “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Finally (for my discussion) “And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides. “For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” (Mar 4:24-25)
Look at this (or, more appropriately, listen to this:)
After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.(Mar 7:14-16)
So, we need to be really careful.
Paul tells the Corinthians (and us) that we are subject to being deceived. “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2Co 11:3) In other words, be careful what you listen to – Eve was deceived through her listening.
His speech was smoother than butter, but his heart was war; His words were softer than oil, Yet they were drawn swords. (Psa 55:21) Our trust in God’s spirit will give us discernment.
But also, be careful what you SAY – what others might HEAR. You can defile yourself by simply saying the wrong thing.
There are a few places that record the Messiah saying this, but I will stick with Mark: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.” (Mar 9:42) Say something wrong, defile a brother, and regret it.
How can we be Really Careful?
- Pray to God (He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see? Psa 94:9) God will listen.
- Read Scripture (So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Rom 10:17) Build Faith
- Seek Wisdom (But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5)
- Endure (Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12)
- Obey (“You are My friends if you do what I command you. John 15:14)
- Listen (But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. James 3:8) We have two ears and one mouth… for a reason.
Folks, we were not beside the road when the Word was sown. Nor were we on the rocky place. Assuming our goal is to be in the fertile soil, we have triumphed over 2 of the 3 places to avoid. The last to overcome is among the thorns. We could struggle with this for the rest of our lives, that is, staggering back and forth between the good soil and the thorny patch. Here are some good words to Listen to: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1Jn 2:15-17)
If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.
Peace to you and Glory to God,