Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Mandarin Bibles and Bird Seed

Suggested Reading: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

I love languages. I speak a couple different languages and can read a couple more. But one of the languages I don't speak is Mandarin. I can read a couple symbols (the numbers 1-3 and "turkey") but that's about it. So a few years ago when I was given a Mandarin Bible, I was excited to have a foreign language Bible to add to my collection, but not as excited as I would have been if I could read it. I placed the Mandarin Bible on my foreign language Bible shelf, admired how it looked next to the others and then moved on with the rest of my day. It's nice to look at but my Mandarin Bible doesn't really do me any good because I don't understand it. In order for it to do me any good, I either need to learn Mandarin or have someone else translate it for me.

In Matthew 13, Jesus told the famous Parable of the Sower, a story which illustrates through several different types of soil the different ways in which people receive God's word. The first type of soil Jesus described was a path, maybe gravel, but essentially like a sidewalk, upon which seed was sown only to be picked up and carried off by the birds. Jesus then explained, "When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path" (Matthew 13:19, HCSB).

According to the parable, one of the reasons that the Word of God doesn't grow and produce fruit in us is that sometimes we simply don't understand it. Sometimes, that initial reception of the Gospel is thwarted by a lack of understanding. But sometimes after we have received the Gospel, our growth plateaus because we simply don't understand the deeper things in God's Word. We get stuck and grow bored because nothing about our walk with God challenges us. Eventually, at that point, we begin to regress and move backward.

Fortunately for us, a failure to understand is not the end of the road. We can learn from the example of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8 who admitted his lack of understanding to Philip so that Philip could explain the scriptures to him. We can ponder and struggle with those things that we don't understand and seek the council of those who are wiser than we are. We can spend time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit for insight and wisdom. We don't have to be content with our lack of understanding or simply skip over those places in scripture which don't make sense to us.

If we don't understand God's Word, we don't have to admit defeat. We just have to ask for help. Growing in our walk with God is too important to be stalled by something we can overcome.

What Did You Think Was Going to Happen?

Suggested Reading: Judges 16:4-21 or Judges 16 (the whole Samson and Delilah story) I may lose some readers over this statement, but.....