Understanding the Bible (Part 3)

It is my pleasure to introduce this three part series of guest posts written by my father, Allen Simmons. He has a Bachelor degree from Baptist Bible College and a Master of Religious Education degree from Tennessee Temple University. Allen has decades of experience studying, preaching, and teaching the Bible at several institutions including the Akron Baptist Temple, Copley Baptist Temple, and Calvary Baptist Church.

PART 3: MEASURES AND METES

Mark 4: 24-25, “And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. 25. For he that hath, to him shall be given; and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.”

“Mete” is another way of saying “measure.” One is a used as a verb and the other a noun.

It is like when you bake a cake and the recipe calls for a cup of flour. The cup of flour becomes your mete. You then measure out the cup of flour by filling the measuring cup with flour up to the proper line. As we pointed out in the previous section, a line is a barrier. In this case The Lord is telling you that you are the one who sets the barrier. The Lord is the one who fills your cup up to the barrier you set. This is you limiting yourself. If you are willing to hear the truth, more truth will be given you.

If you reject the truth, your understanding of truth will not only be limited, but even that which you do understand may be taken from you so that you no longer understand it. (I have seen this happen with ministers who reject Scripture for worldly methodology and modern ideas with modern Bibles. Some of them can no longer tell a person how to get saved!)

“Take heed”

Pay attention! Don’t let truth go in one ear and out the other. Get your brain involved. Be willing to accept the truth no matter how it makes you feel. Truth can be tough to deal with. It gets rejected by many on that basis. If you reject truth, you enter into the world of “vain imagination” (see Ecclesiastes for instruction on this). 

This is one reason why some individuals understand so much more of the Bible than others.  A lot of problems with Bible interpretation is related to someone’s truth saturation point (mete).  Where a man has refused for one reason or another to accept truth, he has not only retarded his understanding but has kept himself from any other insight into it.

People who follow him suffer the same problem. People who reject a good bible class where truth is revealed, stay spiritually retarded to one extent or another. They insist on eating only spiritual baby food and many never mature to the extent where they can handle spiritual meat (I Corinthians 3;1-2; Hebrews 5:11-14).

“What measure you mete”

What happens if you set your limit low? At the point where you set your standard, that is where you stop. The result of setting it low is: unbelief, dropping out of church, going to church only so often, because you cannot take more than your self-inflicted limit. You will reject some Scripture as “irrelevant.” You will experience blindness concerning Bible verses, passages, and doctrine. You will not even recognize your own blindness as blindness!

My personal belief is the mete is based largely on fear. After all, “. . . unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required . . .” (Luke 12:48). People seem to instinctually understand this principle. They fear once they know a thing they might be expected to act on it or be given unwanted responsibilities because they show interest, or they may be held to account by other people for being perceived as something they do not want to be. Not everybody wants to be a leader or a big shot. Some people want to be left alone without hassles. “Ignorance is bliss” to a whole lot of people.

What if you are a minister? How do you combat this in your own congregation so they will move the mete higher? This is a battle common to all of us who strive to get our people to improve their relationship to God. Unfortunately, the problem is so subjective to the people involved, there is no pat answer. Nevertheless, here are some things that can help:

  • You have to demonstrate an honest concern for your group. Jack Hyles pointed out in a meeting I was in, “If your congregation believes you love them, you can tell them anything. If they think you hate them you can’t tell them anything.” You can see the truth of that played out on the political stage on a daily basis.
  • You have to make your lessons relevant to them. You have to touch on their interests good and bad. (Remember how many people were in church after 9/11?)

Dallas Billington of the Akron Baptist Temple used to preach out of the newspaper. The things that concern people in their “real” lives can be dealt with from a Scriptural perspective. An an anthem for today’s people might well be “what’s in it for me.” Show them.

  • Be excited. If you aren’t excited by what you have to say, no one else will be.
  • Vary topics. Some ministers get stuck. Sometimes it is you that inspires your sermon choices, and not the Holy Spirit. Don’t get mad at the people if you are boring them to sleep. Get off the hobby horse. You are going nowhere and wearing a hole in the carpet to boot.
  • Bring the congregation together. Humor is a great tool for this. It helps focus attention. Do something to break the narrative flow from time to time. Keep in mind that people’s attention spans are conditioned by radio and TV commercial breaks. Some folks are naturals at this.  Some are not. Be conscious of it at least.

Conclusion:

I hope this helps. Nothing is fool proof of course, but with prayer and with respect to the Scriptural principals above, understanding can be had both for you and whatever people you are called to influence for the glory of God.

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