What DO you mean to do?
Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? 14 The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. 15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. 16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 17 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, 19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. 20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
21 Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. 22 For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. 23 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
24 Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. 25 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” – Mark 4:13-25
“I didn’t do it on purpose! I promise! I didn’t do it on purpose!” Have you ever said that? Have you ever hurt someone accidentally, incurred their extreme anger and an unkind word shower? Most of us have. We’ve also learned that intent and impact don’t always align.
“I’m so glad you feel that way! I thank God for you, too.” Have you ever gotten to say that as well? Have you experienced the soothing refreshment of kind words fitly spoken? Perhaps you’ve not even intended to be so kind, or thought of your actions as particularly praiseworthy.
There are those times, however, when we do want our actions to be noticed. Sometimes in anger we lash out, fully intending to hurt whoever is to blame. Other times, we reach out in love to someone, hoping to bring them to a better place. Whether it’s meeting a need they acknowledge or one that we perceive, our actions are intended to produce a good result.
From Jesus’ words here we learn that God intends that the light he gives us enlightens others. He makes the point that we don’t go around lighting lamps only to hide them in the closet. We light a lamp because we intend to shed light in the room.
So too with God. He turns on the light at times so that we enlighten others. The Holy Spirit enlightens us with his gifts so that we give them to others. He brings us to faith so that we help others along the path of faith. He opens our eyes so we can help others see the goodness of God and his rule and reign in our lives.
Next time you turn on a light switch think of how God wants you to enlighten the world with his love. Next time you want to protest, “I didn’t mean to…” consider what God is calling you to mean to do. Living intentionally is a life-long and life-giving calling for those who have the light of the gospel in their hearts.