MATTHEW 13:11-12: “He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” (NLT)
OBSERVATION: What is the key to spiritual growth? Why does it seem like some people continue to grow in their faith, while others remain spiritual babes in Christ? I think it has more to do with our ability and willingness to hear then it does with our aptitude.
I can remember when I was a teenager. Like most teenagers, I had the uncanny ability of knowing everything (or so I thought). My mother and father would try to share wisdom from their life to help me avoid the pitfalls they had experienced. I would smile and think – “They just don’t understand.” I was not willing to hear. And what was the result? I repeated many of the same mistakes they were trying to warn me about.
We all have the ability to hear, but many times we do not have the willingness to hear. To be willing to hear requires humility. Humility recognizes that we are not the depository of all knowledge. In fact, as we grow in humility, we also grow in our need and willingness to listen. And Jesus said – “To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge.” However, Jesus also warned – “But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.”
When we moved into our house we had four trees planted in our yard. Three of these trees took root and grew strong and tall. The other tree, in the very center of our front yard, stayed the same size for over 10 years. Each year I would prune it, fertilize it, and hope that it would begin to grow. However, it never did. It remained the same size it was, year after year, no matter what we did. Then one year we had a great hail and windstorm, combined with a great deal of rain. It blew against the little tree, and knocked it over.
When we had the tree replaced, the landscaping company was able to simply pull out the tree with almost no digging. You see, the little tree never established a root system. All the while there was something in the little tree that caused it to ignore the water, ignore the fertilizer, and keep its root system bound in one area. What was the result – it never produced any foliage beyond when it was planted, and ultimately even the foliage that it had was lost in the storm!
This is an illustration of what can happen to our spiritual lives if we do not have a humble heart that is willing to listen. Pride, defensiveness, sin, past hurts, and fear, all try to keep us root bound. Yet, if we want to grow spiritually, if we want to know God and experience the fullness of His Kingdom, then we must have a humble heart that is willing to hear. And when we hear, we then need to follow that hearing with active obedience! Yet, it is the hearing that comes first. The Word of God must take root in our hearts before we can produce the fruit of the Spirit through a life of obedience.
Lord, give me a humble heart that is willing to hear. May I be willing to listen to the still small voice of Your Holy Spirit each and every day. And may I also be willing to listen to the godly men and women that you have placed in my life as they speak words of life from Your heart into mine!
In Jesus Name!