10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Sometimes we might feel like a Bible verse we quote falls upon deaf ears, but not according to the Bible itself. In Scripture, we find the Bible is always effective in one of these four ways.
In many biblical passages (Matthew 13:26-32; Mark 4:32; 1 Cor. 3:7-9; 1 Peter 1:23), the word of God is compared to a seed that is planted inside a person. It may not seem like there was any effect when we shared a particular passage with a person, but just like a seed that is unseen in the ground, God is growing that seed in the life of a person and one day that seed will grow and bear the fruit that God intended.
The word of God waters the soul. As the word is compared to a seed it is also compared to water that nourishes the seed. Sometimes we hear a Bible verse regarding a certain subject and we nod in agreement. But then we hear another verse and another verse and even one more verse upon that same subject and the numerous verses confirm one another. In other words, one verse waters another. So, the word nourishes or waters our soul that faith might grow.
The next thing the word of God always accomplishes is growth. As we hear the word (knowledge) and agree that it’s true (assent) we then act on it (trust). This produces experiential knowledge of God and this is what increases our faith in God. We’ve seen Him act in the past based upon our trust in one of His promises, so we are more likely to trust Him even more when faced with a similar situation in the future. This is how the word of God grows us in our relational faith in God.
When the word of God is shared, everyone responds in some manner, whether positively (as in the examples above) or negatively, such as hearing and then hardening our hearts toward the God who speaks.
The author of Hebrews writes:
again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
This verse warns us not to be like someone who hears the word of God spoken through David, but instead of responding with faith and trust, the person hardens their heart. To harden your heart is to be willfully ignorant. It’s to find a reason inside yourself to say no to the God of the universe. It’s a dangerous proposition as Moses makes clear in Deuteronomy.
18 Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, 19 one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.
This is a person who hears the words of God, but he or she desires other things — some idol. This self-deception leads them not only away from God, but the stubbornness of their heart creates a bitterness in their soul. When we trust in idols (romance, another person, careers, etc.) we will always find ourselves disappointed. In our disappointment, we’re going to blame someone (not ourselves, of course). This blaming others for our problems and issues is a bitterness of soul. This bitterness of soul comes from hardening our hearts to the word of God.
So, the word of God is always accomplishing one of these four things in your life.
I hope and pray it is the first three.