The meaning of Jesus’ words in Mark 4:24–25 may not be immediately apparent to you, but your soul’s spiritual prosperity depends on living it out:
“Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
These words follow the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-20 where Jesus stresses the importance of hearing the Word of God (Mark 4:9, 12, 16, 18, 20). In Mark 4:24–25, Jesus teaches that diligence in engaging God’s Word pays off big time and negligence will forfeit spiritual understanding. This is why Jesus often would say “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”—because some would treat the Word of God lightly (*cough cough Pharisees*), only to harden their hearts and continue in disbelief. May that never be said of us.
Hearing the word is one of the foremost means of grace that God has given to man.
…This is a principle which we find continually brought forward in Scripture. All that believers have is undoubtedly of grace. Their repentance, faith, and holiness, are all the gift of God. But the degree to which a believer attains in grace, is ever set before us as closely connected with his own diligence in the use of means, and his own faithfulness in living fully up to the light and knowledge which he possesses.
Indolence and laziness are always discouraged in God’s word. Labor and pains in hearing, reading, and prayer, are always represented as bringing their own reward. “The soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (Prov. 13:4.) “An idle soul shall suffer hunger.” (Prov. 19:15.)
Attention to this great principle is the main secret of spiritual prosperity. The man who makes rapid progress in spiritual attainments–who grows visibly in grace, and knowledge, and strength, and usefulness–will always be found to be a diligent man. He leaves no stone unturned to promote his soul’s well-doing. He is diligent over his Bible, diligent in his private devotions, diligent as a hearer of sermons, diligent in his attendance at the Lord’s table. And he reaps according as he sows. Just as the muscles of the body are strengthened by regular exercise, so are the graces of the soul increased by diligence in using them.
Do we wish to grow in grace? Do we desire to have stronger faith, brighter hope, and clearer knowledge? Beyond doubt we do, if we are true Christians. Then let us live fully up to our light, and improve every opportunity. Let us never forget our Lord’s words in this passage. “With what measure we use;” to our souls, “it shall be measured to us again.”
The more we do for our souls, the more shall we find God does for them.
I’ve had ups and downs in the Christian life and have experienced both the rich treasure of diligence and the bitter fruit of neglect as it comes to paying attention to God’s Word. Jesus’ words from Mark 4 and Ryle’s comments encourage me to give my all to hearing, loving, and obeying God’s Word. I hope they do for you too.