Speaking in Parables

Matthew 13:10-17

“Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’
With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
‘You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”  NRSV

Over the years, it has been my experience that the following passage has left people scratching their heads in an attempt to understand it: “For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”

It’s really quite straightforward. Let’s say that you start your day with a long, brisk walk. Over time, your muscles become quite strong from their daily workout. Then, an illness lands you in the hospital, flat on your back, for an extended stay. When you begin your recovery you are encouraged to get up and walk. You discover that while you were in your hospital bed, unable to exercise your leg muscles, they begin to atrophy. The leg strength you built up over time is all but gone. Because your legs were not used, not exercised, what they had become was now “taken away.”

When you exercise your legs and the muscles with which you started, increase. Fail to exercise them and your muscles diminish. This is Jesus’ point. Failure to exercise your mental capacity to discern truth from lies; failure to truly listen to the cries around you (hearing only what you want to hear); and, failure see the real conditions of the people (only looking in the limited places where all is well), will cause these gifts God has given you to diminish, to atrophy (“be taken away”). Fully exercise the gifts God has given you and their capacity for even greater things will be added to them.

The threshold has always been about whose will we are trying to satisfy, our own (the road to it will “taken away”), or God’s (the road to “more will be given”)? It’s really quite straightforward.

“The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’”

I favor the “more will be given” option.

Be a blessing to someone today!

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