Yesterday I preached and taught the Bible class for the brethren in Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Since most of the congregation are only fluent in Spanish, and I’m only fluent in English, we needed a translator. Thus, I was able to speak so they could understand.
Several times this week I needed to communicate something, and it was difficult when a translator was not available. Words were spoken. But there was no understanding.
Understanding, however, is more than just comprehending the words. It indicates we grasp the true meaning and see the significance of something. It involves enlightenment, intuition, and discernment. When we possess understanding, we perceive the importance and relevance of the message.
While it was important for my interpreter to translate the right words, it demanded insight on the part of the hearer to think, reflect and understand the personal application of the lesson to their lives.
The Bible calls for us “not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). And so Paul would pray for us readers to possess “the spirt of wisdom” so they could comprehend God’s revelation and have “the eyes of (their) understanding enlightened” (Eph 1:18).
It is possible to have our understanding darkened due to spiritual ignorance and blindness or the deceitfulness of sin (Eph. 4:17-19). Jesus, quoting the prophet Isaiah spoke of such people “who hear but do not understand, who see but do not perceive” (Matt 13:13-14). Willfully refusing to understand will finally harden our hearts to the Truth.
Understanding calls for us to evaluate ourselves. Our hearts. Our minds. Our motives. To see ourselves as God sees us. Both the wise man and the Psalmist often prayed for an understanding heart. Through God’s Word we acquire understanding to love Truth, hate error and walk righteously.
Understanding will also be enhanced through our experiences. When we are guided by godly principles and precepts, we can see the positive results. We know the value of doing what is right. We’ve experienced God’s blessings. Prayers have been answered. Lives have been changed. And pitfalls of life have been avoided.
Understanding will also improve our relationships with others. It will help us in our homes, churches, the workplace, and our communities.
Husbands are commanded to live with their wives in an understanding way (1 Pet. 1:3). All the jokes aside about understanding women, it is a serious command to see her needs. To sense her feelings. To sympathize with her challenges. What makes her happy? Sad? Upset? Comforted? Appreciated? And loved?
Furthermore, as we enjoy fellowship with other believers in our spiritual communities, we are to be aware of the varying needs of our brethren. Some are weak in the faith. Others stronger. Some are bearing heavy burdens. Both the aged saint and the young Christian have unique challenges. Understanding motivates us to attend to the interests of others (Phil 2:3-4).
It is also important that we understand the work and role of our preachers and pastors. They care about us. They want us to be faithful and fruitful. They watch for our souls. They don’t want to hurt us, but rather help us in our Christian walk.
With proper understanding, we enjoy fellowship with God, find peace in our hearts, and improve all of our relationships.
May our prayer be the same as young Solomon, “O Lord, give your servant an understanding heart.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman