Friday, June 27, 2014

Mark 4:13-20 -- On Doing our Homework

"And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?
The sower soweth the word.
And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred."
Mark 4:13-20

This is Christ interpreting the parable of the sower for his disciples.  I think it is interesting that before he explains, he indicates that they should probably know, and asks how they will interpret other parables.  It is an important point I think... perhaps reminding them, and us, that in life when we don't understand something that we should do more than just ask someone else.  We should study and research and try to figure it out, and after we've done that, if we still have questions to ask they will be wiser questions, and we will learn more. :)  God teaches that same lesson elsewhere in the scriptures... to the brother of Jared for one, and pretty clearly to Oliver Cowdery when he said "Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me" (D&C 9:7).
Then he launches into the interpretation, which I think we can all relate to on some level.  Sometimes we're off to the wayside.  We don't even listen.  We're there, alive, vibrant, able to physically hear, but we're distracted or preoccupied or whispering to the person next to us (that's usually me), and although the word was there, and when we heard snatches of it, we had a chance for growth... we just let distractions take us and miss it completely.  Sometimes we're stony.  We're like, this is awesome, I love it, and it's our new insta hobby to be super spiritual, and we keep it up for a while while it is easy, but then it gets harder, or someone is rude, or we might actually have to put forth some real effort to resolve a concern or something, and we're like, ugh.  I have an excuse, and I am out of here.  This is too much.  And then sometimes we're thorny.  We totally get the gospel and it is planted deep.  We love it, and we nurture it... but we also nurture these other things that would like to choke it out.   Mmm.  These other things are awesome, and I can have it all... money and fame and maybe just a little bit of sin, and... we keep growing other stuff until the gospel dies in the overgrowth of other things that we desire more.  And, of course, sometimes we listen, and do something about it, and learn and grow and become more than we were with God's help.
Today, let's find those seeds that fell to the side of the road.  Let's clear the stones out of the garden patch.  Let's get some super-strength weedkiller in to destroy the waist-high thorns that we've been growing.  Let's realize how precious God's word and the gospel are to us.  If we were distracted last conference, let's go back and watch it.  If we have been choking out the scriptures in our lives, let's make some time to read them.  If it's been hard to concentrate on the gospel lately because we have concerns about people or things in the church, let's pray and talk to the bishop or do whatever it takes to resolve those issues.  And if we're learning and growing already, let's keep it up, and never stop.  Let's remember to do the work that God expects us to do in order to understand and embrace his teachings.  Asking is not bad, but we need to do more than ask.  We need to study and research and do all we can, and then ask.  We need to be committed and invested in the learning process, finding out the ideas behind our questions and the ways to solve problems for ourselves, not just ask for the answer.  It's the difference between the proverbial giving a man a fish or teaching him how, right?  God doesn't want us to just come to him and ask for a fish every time we are hungry.  He wants us to learn to be independent.  To learn how to fish, and hunt, and garden, and buy groceries.  And when we learn how to feed ourselves, then we can move on to a more important lesson... and he has so much to teach us.  Let's do better.  Let's clear out the bad, let's do our homework, and let's try to move on to better questions.

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