Some People Are Frustrating

I used to love gardening. I still do, but I don’t have much time for it. While, for the most part, I had a pretty green thumb, there is one plant that I just could not help grow. It was the Rhododendron. I have planted many and killed them all! I was determined to fix whatever I was doing wrong. I researched, asked questions, kept buying more, and I planted them in different types of soil. As it turns out, I was planting them too close to my house; therefore, the roots could not grow out the way they needed to. Their position was just as important as the soil in which they were planted.

Helping people grow spiritually can be just as frustrating. It’s no easy task. It can be wonderful and discouraging all at the same time. Jesus knew this full well. I think He wanted his disciples to understand that there was more to their determination and methods that they tried. It is true that helping a person grow close to Christ has much to do with the seed being sown and the soil it’s planted in; but even more, it is the positional perspective of a person that makes their soil fruitful or not.

On the Sabbath, Jesus taught in the synagogue where a man with a paralyzed hand was sitting. In the crowd were also the Pharisees. Jesus told the paralyzed man to stand before the congregation and He asked the people, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save a life or to kill?”

By this question, Jesus was speaking truth into the hearts of the hearers. He was illustrating that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. To use the man for the Sabbath was evil. All in the synagogue were listening to this message. From what perspective did each receive this truth? Who received it with joy, humility, and adjustment? Who did not? One walks out changed; the others walk out, even more, hardened than when they first came.

After hearing this message, the Pharisees were silent.  Their silence revealed a hardening of their heart. Jesus looked at them with anger and sorrow.

Then he told the paralyzed man to stretch out his hand. As he stretched it out, his hand was restored. This man walked out changed. He and the Pharisees heard the same truth. They both were sitting in the presence of Jesus, the Savior of the world. But this man’s hand was restored and his heart of faith was most likely increased. However, nothing could have angered the Pharisees more.

Where was their anger rooted? It was in their wrong focus. Their focus was on the law of the Sabbath, not the purpose for the Sabbath.

Where were Jesus’s anger and sorrow rooted? It was in the lack of spiritual growth in these Pharisees. They were in the presence of Jesus – the Son of God – the Messiah…and they just couldn’t understand it. They were blinded by their positional perspective.

Many who had heard Jesus speak were astonished at the authority and power with which He taught. They were also quite amazed at the many miracles He had performed. Some had faith. Some were just curious. Some were changed. But some, such as the Pharisees, were not so amazed; and they certainly didn’t want to change. They were not focused on who Jesus was. Instead, they plotted to destroy Him. They were not interested in the truth. They were only interested in their way of thinking, their pride, and their interpretation of the truth.

While many were in the presence of the Lord that day; not all were responding well to the word of truth shared. Those resisting change angered and saddened our Lord. Some people are frustrating! Amen?

Jesus understands our frustrations and sadness with those in our life who just don’t respond positively to the truth given. Jesus desires for all to know Him. But not all want to know Him the way they need to.

Jesus told His twelve disciples that many may look and look, but not perceive; many will listen and listen, but never understand. These people are in the presence of truth; the place where the seed of God’s word is sown; they hear it, they listen, but it is their response and their perspective to the truth that makes it impossible for them to grow. In this case, it is not the seed that corrupts the growth; it’s not how it was delivered; it’s the distractions within the soil.

Let’s move to a modern-day example:

The preacher is giving a sermon – a sermon rich with truth. This truth reaches every ear sitting in the congregation.  .

The response by some is distorted by sin; the temptations that have taken hold of their heart have deafened them and confused their understanding.

The word was sown. They see. They listen.

But what was sown was not received. These walk out of that service unchanged…maybe, even more, hardened than when they first arrived.

Yet in the same setting, there are those who hear the word and are very excited. They find a fresh new strength to conquer their challenges in life.

The word was sown. They see. They listen.

But their response is short-lived. Once they get into their car, the pressures of life take over. They listened without the humility to change. The truth tickled their ears but did not take root in their heart. On the way home, they justify their situation. They stumble back to their destructive ways.

Then there are those sitting in this congregation who hear the word while their worries plague them.

The word was sown. They see. They listen.

Yet, they see and listen with a strangled heart. Their worries choke the truth. The wealth of this world and their flesh suffocate their growth. They leave this service unfruitful and ineffective. These people never change because their mind is set on earthly things.

Finally, there are the people of the good ground.

The word was sown. They see. They listen.

They respond with meekness of mind, heart, and soul. These people do three things differently than the others:

  1. They hear the word with great expectation. They perceive God’s word as a calling to change. They join Him where He is rather than asking Him to join them where they are.
  2. They welcome His truth. With courage, they adjust their life to His truth. They set their minds on things above and remember that the things of this world are only temporary.
  3. They advance the Kingdom of God. From their calling to their development they produce fruit – fruit that lasts. No matter the cost, they are sold out to God’s ways. They are Jesus’ brother, sister, and mother; they are people who do the will of God.

All are sitting in the midst of our churches. All experience pressures. All are tempted by the wealth and pleasures of this world. All are born of flesh and blood. All have sinned and still sin. All hear the same message spoken. But only one kind moves from exploring Christ to being Christ-centered. Only this one will advance the Kingdom of God. Only this one will adjust their lives to the seed’s calling. Only this one will hear “’Well done, good and faithful servant… Come and share in your master’s happiness!”  

I never did plant another Rhododendron. Thankfully gardening is not my calling.  On the other hand, making disciples is my calling. I have experienced many in my life who don’t respond to the truth of God’s word the way they need to. While I gave up on planting the Rhododendron, I have not given up on those who need the Lord.

But one thing I have learned – to change my response to those who do not change vs. those who do.

Those who receive, I walk with them and help them mature in Jesus. I enjoy seeing them develop. But those on the other side of the spectrum, I don’t walk with them. I pray for them. I don’t pray for their behaviors to change. Instead, I pray for humility of heart.  I also pray that what this world offers them breaks down. I pray they see the frailty of whatever it is they are trusting that is not Jesus. That seems harsh. But in order for them to see their great need for Jesus, they need to see this world as worthless compared to a relationship with Him.

I understand frustrations with those who see and listen yet never change. It’s as if the hardness of their heart is stronger than the grace of God. While God’s grace can overcome their hardness, it’s important to remember that it is their responsibility to position themselves for growth.

Related Readings: Mark 3:1-6; 3:31-35; Mark 4:1-20




3 thoughts on “Some People Are Frustrating

  1. Wow, Marcie, this is so good, I plan to read it again!

    You should perfect and publish this one.

    Just my two cents, 😊 Leslie

    Sent from my iPhone


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