The Measure You Use

And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Mark 4:24-25

Jesus had a way with words.

He never wasted them. And each word He spoke still carries life and power within it.

So it should cause us to press in close when He prefaces His Words with, “Pay attention to what you hear.” All of Jesus’ words hold great significance. But these He wants to make sure we don’t miss.

“With the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Here’s the truth, beloved. God gives to us according to the measure that we use.

If you and I don’t acknowledge and use what we have for His glory, it can never grow. We will only experience increase when we use whatever portion He’s given.

And Jesus reveals another uncomfortable truth in those verses, dear one. If we don’t use the measures of grace He’s given us to multiply them, He will take them away.

I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ parable about the talents.

For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.” Matthew 25:14-15

You may be familiar with the story. The man who had been given five talents traded with them and returned ten to the Lord.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” Matthew 25:21

The servant who had been given two talents also used and doubled what he’d been given, receiving the same blessing.

The third servant, however, simply returned the one talent he’d been given to the Master.

According to the principle we discovered in Mark 4, God will measure back to us the same measure that we use. Yet instead of using the talent he’d been given, this servant buried it.

So the Lord measured back to him the measure that he had used. Listen to what the master said about the one who saw no increase.

“So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” Matthew 25:28-30

Are you using what you’ve been given, beloved? Do you even know what you have?

Perhaps you struggle to relate to the parable because you don’t see what “talents” He’s given you. I recently read something from Pastor Rick Joyner that I feel compelled to share with you. Perhaps God will whisper His truth into your heart the way He did in mine.

In the vision I saw a man who was zealously serving the Lord. He was continually witnessing to people, teaching the Bible, and visiting the sick to pray for them. He was very zealous for the Lord and had a genuine love for people. Then I saw another man, named Angelo, who was obviously a tramp or a homeless person. When a small kitten wandered onto his path, he started to kick it but restrained himself, though he still shoved it out of the way rather harshly with his foot. Then the Lord asked me which of these men pleased Him the most.

“The first,” I said without hesitating.

“No, the second,” He responded, and began to tell me their stories.

He shared that the first man had been raised in a wonderful family, which had always known the Lord. He grew up in a thriving church and then attended one of the best Bible colleges in the country. He had been given one hundred portions of His love, but he was using only seventy-five.

The second man had been born deaf. He was abused and kept in a dark, cold attic until he was found by the authorities when he was eight years old. He had then been shifted from one institution to another, where the abuse continued. Finally, he was turned out onto the streets. The Lord had only given him three portions of His love to help him overcome all of this, but he had mustered every bit of it to fight the rage in his heart and keep from hurting the kitten.

Excerpt From: Joyner, Rick. “The Final Quest.” MorningStar Publications, 2006. iBooks.

I confess when I first read the story I felt the same surprise you’re probably feeling. Wouldn’t the man who appeared to be serving God faithfully please Him more?

But almost immediately, wisdom pierced my heart and penetrated my soul.

Nothing matters more to God than love.

Beloved, God cares far more about what’s happening within our hearts than He cares about our good deeds. And as Jesus sought to fulfill the will of the Father by conquering sin through the cross, He had a single-minded purpose: to make love abound again.

God desires to see love increase on this earth, dear one. Nothing matters more to Him than that. You see, God is love (1 John 4:8). And the people He created to fill this earth were designed to reflect His image. Those who are His should increase and abound in love.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

Paul repeats the concept in 1 Thessalonians 3:12.

… may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…

There’s no way around it, dear one. God wants to see love increase in us. Staying the same isn’t an option. And according to Mark 4:24, that can only happen one way. We must exercise love to the full extent of the portion He’s given us. When we do, He will return it to us with that measure and more.

Love must increase in us. It can only grow when we use the love He's already given. Click To Tweet

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Love is all that matters, beloved. Let’s use whatever portion we’ve been given and allow God to make it grow.

The Best of Intentions

And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” Joshua 24:24 ESV

I believe the people of Israel meant it when they said it. In that glorious moment as they stood together ready to claim His promises, they fully intended to live by God’s commands.

But Israel had one huge, consistent problem. They didn’t do it. Over and over they promised obedience to God but didn’t follow through.

Can you relate, dear one? Do you ever notice that our intentions often remain just that? Very often they become nothing more than things we intended to do.

Especially when it comes to our commitment to God.

Either in moments of sudden clarity or from hopeless desperation, we make God all kinds of promises. And when the words leave our lips, we usually mean them. We have every intention of following through on our commitment. The trouble is, we often don’t.

Within the safety of our church walls, we readily take a stand and commit ourselves to our King. It gets a little harder, however, when we walk out the door and have to stand strong in the world.

Israel knows all about that struggle. Time after time, the people stood together and promised their allegiance to God. And time after time, their resolve quickly faded as their hearts wandered from Him toward their own foolish desires.

Their entry into their Promised Land marked one of those times. After dividing the land between the clans and sending them off to possess it, Joshua, their leader, spoke these words.

“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness . . . choose this day whom you will serve . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14-15

The people answered Joshua’s challenge,

“Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods.” Verse 16

Then after recounting the ways God had proven His faithfulness, they responded together,

“We also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.” Verse 18

Joshua knew their promise would be easier said than done. He had, after all, spent forty years with them in the desert witnessing their lack of faith over and over again.

Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”

 But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”

 Joshua 24:19-21, emphasis mine

And they did. Half-heartedly. And their partial obedience led to more and more compromise. They soon found themselves picking up the practices of the surrounding nations rather than following the Word of the God who had delivered them.

Sound familiar? Do you follow the Lord wholeheartedly, dear one? Or do you pick and choose what’s most convenient, allowing what everyone else is doing to dictate the rest?

Beloved, partial obedience brings about serious consequences. Within one generation of entering the Promised Land, Israel found itself harassed and impoverished in the very land God had given them to possess.

I fear that’s what’s happened to the church in our day. Our commitments to walk in God’s will have remained merely good intentions, left at the altar of God. And so hypocrisy looms large in our midst and the church reflects only a shadow of the glory it’s meant to reveal.

Perhaps it’s time we recognize what the Israelites failed to understand. You and I aren’t capable of remaining faithful to God. Faithfulness is a gift of His Spirit, a characteristic of our God of grace. We need Him to make us faithful.

And that’s why we’ve had so much trouble. We’ve tried to go about living for God without approaching Him to do life with Him.

Beloved, if we don’t recognize our desperate need of Him and daily approach His throne of grace, we will fall. Just like we’ve been doing. Just like the Israelites did.

But we have a way to change that.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

You see, once the Israelites had proven they couldn’t keep the covenant they made with God, He made a new one, sealed with the blood of His Son. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross enabled Him to do something for us that the Israelites lacked.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Hebrews 8:10

Jesus made a way to stop the cycle of defeat and change us from the inside out. He desires to write His Word upon our hearts so that He can enable us to keep it. We just need to come into His presence and ask Him to do it.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25, emphasis mine