No Understanding

Hearing Words Is One Thing, Understanding Them Another

Ed, my old neighbor from Saskatchewan, is seldom at a loss for words. He would rather give you a gallon of words, than a spoonful. Ed says that we have free speech in this country, and that means he is free to say as much as he wants.

My old neighbor thought that for me to spend hours or days writing a sermon was a waste of time. Ed has repeatedly asked me, “Why spend hours carefully preparing to tell people the words of the Bible as if it will do them any earthly good?” He claims that he knows people that have been hearing sermons for years, and they have never improved one bit. I said that it is not just hearing God’s word, but believing it, understanding it, applying it and the bearing of its fruit over time. Not everyone who hears God’s word comprehends it or believes it.

The power of words is undisputed. Robert Browning wrote: Words break no bones; hearts though sometimes.” Mildred Houston offered, “A timely word may lessen stress; A loving word may heal and bless. Mark Twain speaks of the power of a word to be like a bolt of lightning or the light of a lightning bug.

I believe that words that sound wise to certain people sound ridiculous to others; for some people value only the speaker, others what is said. As Christians, we know that God’s word has power for it is like seed sown. In the seed itself, there is a great power for life and growth and the production of fruit. The word of God has the authority to produce faith and life and fruit in those that hear the word.

The power of the seed and God’s word depend on where they fall. If the seed falls on a pathway or hardened soil, it cannot sprout and grow because the ground is too hard. Birds will see it and eat it. Some hear God’s word, but do not understand it. They dismiss it. Unabsorbed, the evil one snatches it away.

We know not all soil is deep and some soil in rocky areas is very thin. Seed falling on such ground will sprout and spring up, but the roots cannot go down far for moisture and life. When the hot sun comes, they get scorched and wither away. Some hear God’s word, and it springs up in them with joy, and the word endures for a while but, when the heat of tribulation or persecution comes to them, God’s word withers away in them.

Seeds might also fall among thorns and grow up, but they get choked out by the thorns. Some hear God’s word, and it grows in them but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it dies before producing fruit.

If the seeds fall on the good deep soil, they will grow and produce fruit in good measure. Some hear the word of God, believe and understand it, apply it to their lives, and in time it bears fruit in various amounts. Not all seeds grow when planted or produce fruit. Not everyone who hears the word of God grows in that word or produces fruit from it.

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Raymond Maher
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