THE LORD JESUS made a seemingly paradoxical statement in Matt. 13. 12, which if rightly understood, may well explain much of the failure and weakness that exists in assembly life today. His words were: ‘Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath’. In these strange words our Lord was setting forth a divine law that many of God’s people are unwittingly experiencing today. His words were to the individual, but as assemblies are made up of individuals, His words can apply collectively as well as indivi¬dually.
From the context of the saying we arc left in no doubt as to what the Lord was speaking about. He was explaining to His disciples why the Jews of His day were not able to understand His teaching. He quoted a passage from Isaiah 6. 10, where the prophet speaks of a blindness which was to come upon the nation as a punishment from God. But in saying so He encouraged His own, for He said: ‘Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given’. As we consider these words with the context we can gather that the statement we are looking at refers to having light and understanding of divine things.
The first part of it says: ‘Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance’. The thought here is that if one rightly uses any measure of insight into divine things which they may have attained to, they shall be continually given more until they shall have abundance. In other words, if the spiritual ‘capital’ given us is being rightly ‘invested’ so that it is showing ‘interest’, then we shall be given more.
Do we realize that this is an exceeding great and precious promise to those who let the Word of God influence their lives? God only imparts a knowledge of His Word with a practical end in view. Scripture is very emphatic that it is not what we know or say that counts with God, but what we do. Did not the Lord Jesus mark the difference when He said: ‘If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them’? And again: ‘Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord! Lord! shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven’. These statements, together with those of the apostle James: ‘Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only’ show us that God desires that any light upon, and knowledge of, His Word, should govern and shape our daily living. If it is doing this, then we can rejoice in this promise and look forward to being given more and more understanding of it. This is the reason why some believers have a genuine love for the Word of God and seem to be getting fresh light from it constantly. They humbly do what they see is the teaching of Scripture and the Holy Spirit is pleased to show them more. It is such that the Lord had in mind when He said: ‘Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance’.
The second half of the statement says: ‘Whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath’. This can be explained in a similar way to the first half for it has to do with spiritual ‘capital’ and ‘interest’ also. Only this time it has the solemn warning that believers who have no ‘interest’ from their spiritual ‘capital’ will alas! have their ‘capital’ taken away from them! Such have a knowledge of the Word, but it remains mere knowledge – something that they never attempt to put into practice. We all know how easy it is to hold truth, and yet the truth never holds us. There is a vital difference in these two attitudes. If we are hearers of the Word and not doers thereof we merely keep the Word of God in our minds and never let it sink down into our hearts. If we have no Christian character to show for our knowledge of God’s truth, then such knowledge will be taken away. It seems that God values His truth so much that He will not allow us to keep it without using it. When He sees we have no intention of living by it, then His punishment for our despising of its value is to take it away - ‘Whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath’.
Is the knowledge of scriptural truth – for which we were once famed as assemblies – being taken from us in accordance with the second part of this statement? Let those who are personally exercised as to their lack in this respect have the grace to recover themselves, and those who are enjoying the promised increase be encouraged.