Summary: God’s word will change us if we receive it. But how do we receive it fruitfully?
Scripture Reading: Mark 4:26-34
He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
The Parable of the Growing Seed can be found only in the Gospel of Mark. Although Mark doesn’t tell us what the seed is, we know from other passages that this is the word of God (see Luke 8:11). And although the growth is gradual, the effects of the word are powerful and transformational, not only in the individual but also in the society. The author of the letter to the Hebrews says that ”the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). There is no way that God’s word cannot change us if we are open to receiving it.
But how do we receive the word? Scripture has a few interesting things to say. One, as Luke says, we need to receive it with “a good and noble heart” (Luke 8:15). Two, we need to receive it with “great eagerness” (Acts 17:11). Luke wrote about how “the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness! They then examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). There is an important lesson contained in this for us. We should not accept what preachers teach us blindly but verify their words in Scripture.
Three, as James says, we need to receive it with “meekness” or, if you prefer, with “humility” (James 1:21). This essentially means that we don’t act like know-it-alls, but as people who would like to know as much as possible. Four, as Peter puts it very poetically, we need to crave it like newborn babies crave milk, so that we may grow in our salvation now that we have tasted that the Lord is good (see 1 Peter 2:2). And once we have become strong with milk, we need to graduate to solid food (see Hebrews 5:12).
But we cannot just be receivers; no? We need to be givers too; we need to be sowers. We need to scatter the seed. We needn’t concern ourselves with how the seed sprouts and grows; that is God’s work. Our job is just to scatter. Consider these reflections. They are going out to thousands of people in dozens of different languages each day. While some people let us know how much the reflections impact them, we don’t know how they affect others. Maybe they fall on hard hearts; maybe on fertile hearts; it doesn’t matter. That’s God’s responsibility. Ours is simply to scatter.
So, start scattering the seeds if you aren’t already. And watch the kingdom grow.
Today's devotional — Receiving the Word — is based on Mark 4:26-34, the gospel reading for the day. The reflection is by Aneel Aranha, founder of Holy Spirit Interactive (HSI). Follow him on Facebook: fb.com/aneelaranha