“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.. For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”
Have you ever thought about this, and wondered why Jesus would say something that seems so terribly unfair? There is a principle here that is illustrated well in the Parable of the Sower:
“The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road; and it was trampled under foot, and the birds of the air ate it up. And other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it, and choked it out. And other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great. As He [Jesus] said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”” (Luke 8:4-8)
Nearly everything that God gifts us comes in the form of a seed. The gifts come as:
revelations of Himself
The key is found in the statement in Matthew 13:12 above: “for whoever has, to him shall more be given.” We are all given seeds, but unless we receive with intentionality, then cherish and nourish that seed it will die and be lost to us. The person that has been faithful with what has been given will be given more.
The first requirement is to receive with intentionality: whenever we are presented with a gift, we have three responses to choose from:
1: I don’t want it;
2: I don’t care; or
3: I receive it.
Just to be intentional, when God offers me a gift I make a point of verbalizing “I receive it.”
The seeds tend to be very small, and are easily missed if we are not paying attention. We’re always aware of the big and the bold, but all the flash and glitz are a distraction from the deeper, more valuable things. The older I get, the more I recognize and value the nuances of life: often it’s the “smallest” things in life that are most significant.
“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” [This is a very big deal, by the way.] “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (1 Kings 19:11-12) The passage does not explicitly say, but infers that the Lord showed Himself in that whisper.
Second: The admonition of the Parable of the Sower is to develop “good soil” for the seed to fall on: in other words, a heart that is ready and willing to receive it. This requires desire, humility, and trust.
“For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” (Psalms 107:9)
Third: Even with the best of soil, the seeds require care and nurture if they are to grow into a mature plant or tree. I nurture the seed by faith, seldom knowing what the tree or its fruit will look like. Nor when, where, or how it will benefit me or be a gift to others.
I once saw on a T-shirt:
“A talent is a gift from God
Developing this talent is my gift to God”
The same is true of each of the gifts listed above: He provides the seed, but that seed may require years (or a lifetime) of passionate attention and hard work to bring to full maturity.
The four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter provide a widely accepted picture of a person’s life-cycle. A tree is an appropriate illustration of this: Spring, of course, provides the picture of youth and rapid growth. Summer is the season for maturation and full development. Autumn; a time for the beauty of fall color along with a harvest and sharing the fruit of a life. Then Winter is the time of slowing down in rest and eventual death.
When deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn they may have the appearance of being dormant or dead, but there is still growth underground. Fall and winter are a time for trees to deepen and extend their roots. “This winter quiescence – where roots are resting but ready – is extremely important for the health of individual trees and, by extension, for forests in general. Indeed, it is this trait that allows evergreens to absorb soil water and avoid winter desiccation in their needles, and it is this trait that allows all species, including deciduous hardwoods, the opportunity to expand their root systems in search of water and nutrients in advance of spring bud break.“ *
Caring for the seed and the growing tree is a daily task, with specific requirements for each season. And they must be cared for and nurtured more purposefully in difficult times. Not “when this is over,” when things get better, or when I’m ready. This is not a time for waiting, hibernation, or to be in “limbo.” We are instructed to “be ready in season and out of season…” (2 Timothy 4:2), which means all the time. If we cannot bear fruit in the moment, then it is a time for deepening the roots. Seeds and trees can dry up and die through abuse or neglect. Opportunities pass, and there is not always a second chance.
We must constantly persevere to position ourselves to receive, retain, and grow. There is always more to receive and always room for growth.
But what about the time we are living in right now? (This was written during the Covid 19 pandemic of 2020.) Like every other difficult time, this will pass. Maybe like a kidney stone, but it will pass. But until (and when) it does, those who are alert, diligent, and prepared will be positioned to help those in darkness and despair back into the light. Jesus said: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
Back to the verse from Matthew that we started with: “For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance;…” not for selfish indulgence, but to share with others.
What seeds have been given to you?
And what are you doing with them?
A grove of nearly 300′ tall redwoods in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park, California. Each of these trees started out as a seed, survived as saplings, and grew to be the largest trees in the world.
My personal application of this principle:
I am committed to writing in my journal every insight and word of wisdom the Lord gives me. I do this even when I’m in bed, trying to go to sleep, or when waking up at 2:30am with thoughts or ideas that obviously came from Him. I don’t want to get out of bed, but I do it anyway. I have a permanent record of each of those insights that I can return to and build on at any time. If I did not write them down immediately they would soon be forgotten. Most of the content you find in this and other Bright Spot essays came from those journal entries.
Of course this commitment to value each seed that He gives may look different for each person and/or in each circumstance.