Your Satellite Dish
So be careful how you listen. Those who have understanding will be given more. But those who do not have understanding, even what they think they have will be taken away from them. (Luke 8:18)
Jesus is saying that we will either go forward with God, or we’ll lose ground with Him. There is no such thing, really, as “staying the same” day after day. Here’s how it works: There are things you understand from God’s Word right now about how He wants you to live. If you’ll do something to respond and obey with what you know now, then you’ll understand more next time, and even more the time after that! You may not notice a big change the very next time you read your Bible. Still, if you’re faithful with what you hear and respond to it with a whole heart the best you can, then your ability to understand increases as time goes by.
What, then, can deepen your faith in Jesus? What can enlarge your heart? Want to understand God’s Word, and then obey what you understand. Your heart will grow!
You’ve seen satellite dishes on people’s roofs. Sometimes they’re really little dishes, and sometimes they are really big. The bigger they are the better. A large satellite dish can catch more of the radio waves that are floating through the air. Listening to God is very similar. A big heart can catch more of His Word than a small heart can. You may not understand much. But if you respond to what you do hear, your heart’s “satellite dish” gets bigger. Of course you get the benefit from doing whatever God asked you that time. But there’s more! Your “dish” gets bigger, too, and you will have a greater ability to understand God in the future.
What happens, though, if you don’t respond to the things you hear? As time passes, your “dish” will actually get smaller. There will be consequences for not obeying, of course. You will “reap what you sow” if you make a bad decision by not responding to what God asks of you. But that’s not all. The next time you hear something, it won’t make as much sense. You might not even catch something that you had no trouble understanding before. You weren’t faithful with it the first time, so your ability to receive God’s Word and apply it has diminished.
You certainly don’t want your capacity to get smaller and smaller and smaller, until it finally gets to the point where your heart is hard and empty. You don’t want your “dish” to shrink all the way down until God’s Word has no way to get into your heart.
In the gospels we read that “the large crowd listened to Jesus with pleasure.” They still had room in their hearts for His Word. The same thing was not true for the Pharisees. Jesus told them, “You have no room in your heart for My Word.” Their hearts were too full of other things to receive anything new. They rejected Him and ended up crucifying Him. Why? Jesus couldn’t reach their hearts. Their “satellite dishes” had shrunk down to nothing! They couldn’t see how much they needed Him. Maybe when they were children, they got the best grades in their rabbi’s class. It didn’t do them any good, though. They filled their hearts with something else. They had heard lots of God’s Word, but they were too full of themselves and had rejected His Word for too long.
If you’re faithful with the things you hear, then your ability to know God increases. If you’re not faithful, then your ability to even hear it next time decreases. So be careful how you listen!