I have been blessed to have several puzzle buddies—those who will spend precious vacation hours leaning over a jumble of puzzle pieces in varying degrees of assembly.
And it was on one such vacation as our puzzle was nearing completion that one of my buddies found– to her horror— that we were missing a piece. For some reason that had never bothered me. I was usually just pleased with the 999 pieces that showed up.
But this friend was so distraught, she suggested we throw the puzzle away. Don’t worry, I saved it from such needless destruction, but her strict standards puzzled me (pun intended). Why would a missing piece be so upsetting?
Then as I studied Jesus’ parable of the sower this week, I was reminded just how important one piece can be. In Matthew 13:3-8 we read about seed being sown on four different kinds of soil: the path, the rocky soil, the thorny soil and the good soil.
As Jesus explains this parable to His disciples in vs 18-23, He points out that only one thing separated the first kind of soil in verse 19 from the last kind in verse 23:
“When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path…
“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”( Matt 13:19, 23 emphasis added)
Though both people heard the word, only one is fruitful. And the one thing missing from the first person is understanding. I know you’ll agree that such an important word deserves some digging so, let’s take a look at the definition.
The original Greek for understanding is suniemi and means, “The comprehending activity of the mind…assembling of individual facts into an organized whole, as collecting the pieces of a puzzle and putting them together.”1 Well, there you go.
So, in other words, when you try and put the pieces of hearing and fruit together, they don’t fit. But when you place understanding between them, it works.
And, in case you missed last week’s “episode” it provided some clues about how to gain this understanding. But, suffice it to say, ask. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself as you’re hearing His word.
- Spiros Zodhiates, “The Complete Word Study Dictionary,” (Chattanooga, TN, AMG Publishers, 1992), p.1343-44.