When we begin conducting service in retirement communities and nursing homes many years ago, a good friend counseled that I should be careful to avoid evaluating the residents' capacity to understand and assimilate information. "They may not be able to respond, Glen," my friend said. "However, they may be well able to receive."
Such advice serves us well in our ministry, and not only to those with physical liabilities. Some people do not give evidence of spiritual response when first presented with God's truth.
"A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first" (Matthew 21:28-31).
Ours in not to judge fruit, especially concerning the appearance of initial response, but rather to faithfully present "the Root of the righteous" that leads to a bountiful spiritual harvest in God's time (Proverbs 12:12). Some who initially reject the Lord and His truth come to their senses as the Holy Spirit works in their hearts. Others who seem to quickly respond ultimately reveal no lasting and fruit bearing faith. Only God sees to the heart of such matters of His grace and truth, thus challenging us avoid both discouragement and overmuch excitement as we communicate the Gospel to our hearers.
No less than the Apostle Paul initially rejected the Lord Jesus, to the degree of persecuting His followers. Many others will likely grace the courts of Heaven who seemed to us as having no means of spiritual receptivity, but who later came to their senses. Long ago, this lesson presented itself in those with compromised physical capacity for response, and I seek to remember it in both ways. You never know who's hearing with their hearts, and who is not. Nor do we need to know as we fulfill our role of sowing seed, while trusting God for nurture and harvest.
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."
Weekly Memory Verse
He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.