To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.
When what I listen to is something other than God's word taught by Jesus, whether it is the culture's message or the message of false prophets (such as those who say diseases or natural disasters are God's way of punishing sin), these messages do not spring forth from the unfailing love of God. A few verses later in Matthew, Jesus quotes Isaiah, saying: "For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes--so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them."
When I don't act out of love, my heart becomes hardened and understanding of Jesus' teachings fades away, drowned out by the voices of hate and selfishness that are so much easier to hear and obey. It is much more appealing to hear messages from society and from false prophets that elevate us while condemning others, that make us feel it's okay to hold onto our wealth instead of redistributing it to those who desparately need it, that focus our attention on celebrities and consumerisim instead of the massive exploitation others endure so that our consurmerism addiction can be satisfied.
This week, it seems I have been surrounded by those whose messages contradict the teachings of Jesus. I have spent much time looking inward to see where I am living by the messages of my culture instead of the message of Jesus. The more I read Jesus' teachings, the more I realize that his message of unwavering, infinite, unconditional love is countercultural, a threat to the values and structures of power we craft to make our lives comfortable. Thus, it is easier to say I won't give to the person I see begging because he might be a con artist than to take a chance and give him something. I justify myself by saying I am being a "good steward" even though Jesus said to give to those who ask (Matthew 5:42). In justifying my behavior, I fail to trust God to provide sufficient resourses to me so that I might be able to give more abundantly. God is obviously reckless in his generosity, because I see how recklessly generous he has been to me. Could it be that he expects me to be that recklessly generous to others? Could it be that I am really supposed to live a life that exudes the love of Christ, the reckless, lay-it-all-on-the-line love that Jesus modeled instead of the measured, safe, take-care-of-myself life that our society advocates?