Mark 4:24-25 24 And he 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. 25 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.”
Every one of us have at one point or another listened to someone speaking and pretended that we understood what they said but in reality we did not. Or we thought we understood but we didn’t. The amazing thing about speech is that we convey our thoughts through the words we speak and through our hearing we receive this information spoken by others but the words spoken may not convey the actual intent of the heart and the words heard can be completely misunderstood and misinterpreted. We often can’t tell for sure whether we are conveying our thoughts in a way that can be understood or that we are interpreting what we hear in the right manner. As Jesus is speaking in parables in Mark 4, He is intentionally hiding the truth of what He is saying from those who will not believe while at the same time the Holy Spirit was revealing His desired message to the hearts of those who were drawing near to God. All these initial parables convey the same idea that the Kingdom of God is something that cannot be seen by the naked eye just as any spoken word can be misunderstood by the hearer. It can be hidden in spite of being heard and the irony of course is that the Christ, the Saviour of the world, is the person physically present and speaking these truths to the Jewish people who were supposed to be looking for His coming and yet most who heard His message could not understand.
But what does it mean, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”? The parallel passages in Matthew and Luke bring more clarity:
Matthew 7:2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
Luke 6:37-38 37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
These passages are not saying that we are not to judge others. We judge each other all the time as we try to examine the motivations for why people say the things that they do. In our attempt to understand others we are continually judging them. What this passage is saying is that whatever your relationship is to God this will determine how you judge others- how you respond to and treat those around you. This passage is saying that the true condition of your heart of which nobody can physically see will be revealed in how you respond to others. If you have been forgiven by God through Jesus Christ’s redemptive work upon the cross you will be willing to forgive those who have sinned against you. If you know that you deserved to be condemned to an eternal suffering for the wicked deeds of your own heart acting in rebellion against God and you have become poor in spirit and mourned over your sin and have repented before God and believed in His Son Jesus Christ, you are no longer condemned but are deserving of eternal life in the presence of God through His free gift of grace. You know you are not condemned and this is revealed in how you treat others: you will not condemn them because you want the same reality to be true for them. You don’t cast aside others as utterly hopeless. You have hope for their souls no matter how evil they may be for you know how evil your heart is by nature and that God has given you a new heart through faith in His name.
The reality is that throughout our entire lives we are being put to the test. Our actions reveal what we believe about God and the true condition of our heart. We all face different trials of varying degrees of difficulty but we all are tested in one way or another by God. Do we reflect the glory of God with our lives? And in the final judgment when Jesus Christ returns to this earth our lives will be weighed in the balance. We will be measured and examined by God to the most minute detail and action. Our passage in Mark 4:24-25 is saying that if we have lived our lives out of a sincere and ever increasing love to God it will be evident in how we treat others. Whatever measure of faith we have now in God will only be increased. But for those who do not reflect the glory of God here and now in this realm of time in which we are tested before the eternal state (this period of time from our birth until our death) all the temporary pleasures that they have gained in one manner or another- either honestly or deceitfully will be taken away for all eternity. They will receive their reward: eternal suffering.
Do you see why we must pay attention to what we hear? You can hear the Word of God and yet not never understand and be saved. You can claim to be a Christian but your actions are only a show to mask and deceive others of your present reality. You can claim to know who Jesus is and yet be totally wrong in your understanding. The religious leaders and so many others heard Jesus speak but did not understand. In their arrogance they could not hear. God had blinded their understanding and this can happen to anyone who claims to know God. If we do not walk with God in all humility, we too will become blinded. Jesus had chosen the twelve disciples of which one, Judas Iscariot, never paid attention to what he heard and he was eternally condemned.
What a blessing it is to know that if we are born again not only will God increase our faith in His glorious Name but we will be with Him forever! We pay attention to the Word of God and are growing in our understanding! We seek Him with all our heart! We love Him because He first loved us:
1 John 4:10-12 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
How it grieves God when we don’t listen to Him or even try to understand Him. How it grieves God when we turn away from loving Him as we should. But the love of God abounds! He will restore us to Himself if we turn back to Him. And we will continue to show love to others out of our love to God in an ever increasing manner as our faith in Him increases. The promise is ours: Mark 4:24 ...with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.
Pastor Murray Hack