“[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.’ ”
The theme of hearing recurs throughout Mark 4, but not hearing merely in the sense of receiving auditory signals. As is the case in many places in Scripture, the emphasis in Mark 4 is on hearing with faith. Whether one hears with faith—believes the message given and heeds it—is of vital consequence for one’s place in the kingdom of God. The thing that sets the soils apart in Mark 4:1–20 is receptivity. The first three kinds of soil do not produce a harvest because they are not truly receptive to the message that is sown. They do not accept it and bear fruit as the good soil does (v. 20). Such ability to hear and benefit from the gospel is not common to all people. Only those who have “ears to hear” will heed it, and this hearing must be granted by Christ so that we can understand the secret of the kingdom of God (vv. 9, 11, 23, 33).
Today’s passage also reflects the importance of hearing with faith lest we fail to benefit from the words of our Lord (see also Heb. 4:2). First, Mark 4:24 opens with the warning for us to “pay attention” to what we hear. The implication here is that it is possible for people to listen to Christ’s teaching and yet not pay attention. When Jesus speaks, we must listen to Him and be prepared to act on what He tells us. Our love for Him will be reflected only as we keep His commandments (John 14:15).
Mark 4:24 also indicates that the degree to which we have access to God’s revelation depends on how we receive and act on our Savior’s words. The measure we use—how open we are to God’s Word—will determine how much insight into it we are granted. Our Creator does not give more to people who have little if they do not truly receive the little that they have been given. The Lord is exceedingly generous, but He is no fool. He gives more only to those who truly want what they have already received. Christ will not continue to dispense His revelation to us unless we want Him to fill our measure with it.
Moreover, Jesus will not let us keep what we have been given if we do not receive it in faith. God does not bestow His grace equally upon all people. He gives more to those who have it—those who have believed and acted upon His Word—and He takes away what little grace those who do not believe and act on His Word currently possess (v. 25). The Lord is patient, but if we do not respond to His call, He will not continue to bless us.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
God blesses us with the light of the revelation of His kingdom not so that we can be indifferent to it but so that we will respond to it in faith. However, He will not offer the kingdom to us forever. If we do not trust and follow Him today, we may not get the chance to do so tomorrow. Our goal should be immediate trust and obedience, but as only God can grant that, so let us pray for His Spirit to give us that gift.