“Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” Luk 8:18
This warning follows a parable in which Jesus describes people who hear the Word of God in four different ways. In the first group, their hearts are stony ground, unprepared, and when the seed of the Word lands on their heart, through the avenue of their ears, their hearing, immediately the devil comes and takes the Word away so that it cannot grow and bear fruit. The implication is, that if the seed was left, it would grow.
In the second group, they hear the Word with joy, and receive it, and it grows for a time, but when temptation arises, the Word withers and dies because it has no root. That person falls away, and stops following the Word or living according to the Word. We learn from one of the other gospels, that the temptation (or tribulation, or persecution) arises for the Word’s sake (Mar 4:17). In other words, it seems as if the Word’s presence calls forth the temptation or tribulation or persecution.
So, in the second group, the Word, if left alone, would have continued to grow. But when the person encountered the same trials that the Word calls forth for everyone who receives it, they fall away, because they have no root. A plant with deep roots can withstand a little drought or famine, because they are not just drawing on nutrients or water from the surface. They are drawing from deep in the earth, where the temporary surface conditions do not affect it.
We have deep resources also … the Bread of Life which is Yeshua the Living Word, and the Living Water, the Holy Spirit inspired new life springing up like a fountain of living water. We can choose to draw on these resources, the Word and the Spirit, relationship with the living God, and deepen our root, so that we withstand in the evil day. Or not, and wither and die. It is up to us.
The third group hears the Word of God so that it grows, and they might even have deep roots; but the tribulation that arises for them, are the cares of life, such as is brought about by poverty or lack, or the riches of life. Both ends of the spectrum are like weeds that grow up beside the Word and choke it. The result of the weeds is the same as the result of the shallow root — the plant of the Word of God does not continue to prosper so that fruit is produced!
Then the fourth group hears profitably, so that the Word of God grows and produces fruit. Although the Lord does not say it, I believe the same tribulation that arose for the other groups arose for this one also, but because they were careful and paid heed to how they heard, they avoided the pitfalls of shallow roots and weeds, and went on to maturity.
Jesus gave us the warning to pay heed to how we heard, because we can determine which soil we will be and how our hearts will receive the Word of God. Will we be too busy or for other reasons not cultivate the relationship with Abba YHVH that provides the Bread of Life and Living Water for us? Will we dwell on cares instead of casting them on to the Father who loves us, who provides for all of our needs? Will we accumulate riches to ourselves instead of being conduits of God’s blessing, giving away what He has blessed us with? If we are careful to avoid these pitfalls, the Word of God will grow and produce fruit!