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On your Mark

The learning principle

ÒConsider carefully what you hear,Ó he continued. ÒWith the measure you use, it will be measured to you — and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.Ó (Mark 4:24,25, NIV)

I signed up for a beginning course in piano my first semester in college.

I considered myself a quick learner and thought that within three months I would play the piano with the best of them. My teacher, however, insulted me on the first day by placing in front of me a Clara Thompson beginning piano book designed for first-graders.

But my teacher had it right. No one can become a concert pianist in a few weeks! I needed to start with the basics. Much to my chagrin, I had no talent for even that. I couldn’t seem to make the movement of my fingers on the keyboard and my feet on the pedals line up with the squiggly notes on the score in front of me.

At the end of the semester I dropped out. I’ve long since forgotten all I learned, and today I cannot even play the simple little ditties I learned back then.

My experience illustrates the principle Jesus is talking about — use it or lose it.

Some read these words of Jesus and falsely assume He is endorsing a form of economics: The rich get richer and the poor get poorer (which they often do). But He’s really addressing issues of discipleship.

Jesus challenges us to “hear.” He says there’s a relationship between listening and capacity. You can bring to Jesus the capacity of your measure: Is your desire to know Him the size of a thimble, a cup, a glass, a jar, a 50-gallon drum?

Your capacity to “hear” lies with you. You can bring whatever receptivity you will. And, to the extent of the capacity you offer, He will fill it up. “It will be measured to you — and even more.”

Notice the “even more.” There’s a lot more spillover from a 50-gallon drum than there is from a thimble. Your willingness to grow in Christ determines the size of the spillover!

In short, Jesus says that what you do today determines what is given to you tomorrow. If you choose to become stagnant, then more cannot be given you; and you risk losing even what you have.

Jesus’ learning principle applies to all areas of discipline. If you pray regularly, then prayer will grow; if you start praying spasmodically, then sooner or later you’ll quit praying altogether.

The same holds true for reading or study of the Bible, giving, witnessing, stewardship of time and talent, or deepening of relationships.

I asked a friend of mine who had been married for more than 30 years, “How is it that you have such a successful and happy marriage?”

She answered, “Oh, my husband and I work at it; and every year we read a book specifically on the subject of marriage to help us in our relationship.”

What was the secret? They had not stopped growing in their relationship, and more was being added to them.

You must never reach a time in your Christian journey when you feel you’ve done enough, and that from here on out you can coast. There is never a time in your Christian life when it is all right to stop growing, because when you quit then you go into reverse. You lose what you had.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, help me so that I never become stagnant in my walk with You. Keep me on the growing edge. I desire to be full of overflowing.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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