Sunday afternoon I had opportunity to chat with a very dear friend. Easily, four months had passed since our last conversation, yet after only a few brief minutes of 'catch up' regarding our families, conversation turned to the sharing of God's Word and to truths we were currently applying in our lives. With my Bible open on my lap, she and I traced God's goodness and promises. We talked of the 'new Word' he had spoken into our hearts. We shared doubts and fears. There was no idle chatter. Eternal matters were the topic. Our hearts were burning within us to do more than listen, for living is our lot.
In the verse above we see the posture of passivity. The Pharisees were "sitting by" while Jesus was teaching. Matthew Henry writes, "How many are there in the midst of our assemblies, where the gospel is preached, that do not sit under the Word, but sit by! It is to them as a tale that is told them, not as a message that is sent them; they are willing that we should preach before them, but not that we should preach to them."
Beth Moore questions: "Can you recall a time when you attended a Bible study or church service that profoundly affected a few of the people you were with, while others in attendance were completely unmoved? Like the Pharisees and teachers of the law, sometimes the unaffected can be the most 'religious' people in the room. Could the difference be that they were sitting by rather than sitting under God's Word?"
In Beth's book, "Jesus the One and Only", she encourages the reader to sit under God's mercy instead of sitting by with a critical eye. She writes, "If you will actively engage yourself in every message you hear or read, you will never hear or read another ineffective message."
Where are you positioning yourself? It's not so much a physical location, but a spirit's surrender. Think of the foyer conversation you indulge in at the close of Sunday's sermons. Do your words reflect the passion of one who has longingly sat 'under' the revelation of God's Word or impatiently sat 'by', checking your watch to see the time, oblivious to the miraculous? Words are falling around you, but not within you. Don't be satisfied with less when God wants to give you more. Sitting by makes you an observer. Sitting under makes you a participant.
What Word has He revealed to you that requires action today? Don't be caught 'sitting by'. Do something!