Applying the Word; November 24, 2022

Matthew 13:12 “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

Many people down through the centuries have thought, “That’s not fair!” However, it just hit me that this is an excellent example of the difference between Capitalism and Socialism. God gives equality of opportunity, but that does not guarantee equality of outcome. At issue in this teaching of Jesus is the individual response to hearing the Word of the Lord. That’s why Jesus said, in verse 9, “He who has ears, let him hear.” I know people who are physically deaf but who have excellent spiritual hearing! We need receptive hearts above all. We are very adept at fooling ourselves. As James famously said, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22) Acting on what we hear is the way to give it roots and allow it to bear fruit. The devil does all he can to (preferably from his standpoint) snatch the Word out of our heart, or failing that, either keep it from growing roots or choke it out with distractions of all sorts. If we want to be among those who receive to the point of abundance, we need to apply what we have already received. This fits in perfectly with the equally famous parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. The application of the Word takes two major forms: allowing it to change us, and sharing it with those who don’t yet have it. It has long been recognized that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it. The more we intentionally share God’s truth with those around us, the deeper it will be rooted in our own heart. We are to be hungry for the Word but not stingy with it. Sharing it with others certainly doesn’t diminish our own supply, but rather multiplies it. However, we aren’t to insist others do what we aren’t willing to do ourselves. When we apply the Word as God intends, everyone benefits.

This naturally applies to me. As someone with Teacher gifting I tend to think that just presenting people with truth is sufficient, but my younger daughter, having seen my sermon notes for this next Sunday, reminded me that I need to be specific in my suggestions for application of the truth I’m sharing. That again is in line with the teaching I’ve been getting on Coaching, which is distinct from either teaching or counseling. There is certainly overlap and blending, but the distinction is that a good coach comes alongside and helps the individual recognize on their own the truths the coach wants to communicate. Both teaching and counseling tend to be quite top-down, and that can be very ineffective in the long run. Even in my teaching Medical English, it really clicks for my students only when they have occasion to use what they’ve heard in class, and then it becomes part of them. That is certainly true for the Biblical truth I seek to communicate from the pulpit.

Father, thank You for this clear reminder, and for the words of wisdom Ann spoke to me last night. Help me indeed not deceive myself, but do all that You say to me as You intend, for the blessing of those around me and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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