“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.“ – Vs 29 (NASB)
This is a difficult statement, smack dab in the middle of a very difficult section of teaching on the kingdom of God by Jesus. And this particular phrase has been used by Jesus before. Over in Matthew 13, He used the same exact words after explaining to His disciples why He spoke in parables. “Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted'” (Matthew 13:22, NASB). Then He followed with “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall not be taken away from him.” Jesus used this same phrase again in speaking about the lamp. “And He was saying to them, ‘A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear'” (Mark 4:21-23, NASB). Then He immediately follows this up with, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides. For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him” (Mark 4:24-25, NASB).
So what’s the point? What’s the common theme going on in these situations? It’s interesting that more often than not, I have heard this phrase of Jesus explained as a lesson on stewardship. Typically, I have heard it used to encourage faithful tithing or the faithful use of our talents. And while there may be some way in which this application can be derived from Jesus’ statement, the more I read it in the contexts in which He used it, the more I believe He was not speaking of stewardship or finances at all. It would appear to me that in all three of the cases we looked at above, recorded by three different gospel writers, the real issue is how we respond to the truth. In the Matthew 25 passage, Jesus has told the parable of the talents. Three different servants have been given money by their master before he leaves on a journey. He has entrusted them with something that belongs to him. Jesus tells what each of the three did with what they were entrusted. The one with five talents doubled what he was given to ten. We aren’t told how. The one who was entrusted with two talents gained two more. Again, we aren’t told how. Finally, the one who was given the one talent did nothing with his, but buried it, returning it to the master when he came back. The first two are recognized as being faithful and receive a reward. Their reward was increased responsibility and the recognition of their master’s joy. The third is condemned as unfaithful, wicked, and lazy. His crime? He did nothing with what he was entrusted. The issue here is not talents or abilities. It has nothing to do with our good stewardship of money or resources. But it has everything to do with how we respond to the truth of God that has been entrusted to us. To some, God entrusts more. As He did with the disciples. They were given a special measure of God’s truth as revealed through Jesus Christ. They responded to it and were rewarded accordingly. To others, they heard the words of Jesus, saw the miracles He performed, but failed to do anything with what they had been given. They did not respond to the truth.
The same is true in the Mark passage. The lamp in Jesus’ story represents light or the truth. Jesus is that light. He was the truth of God being revealed to men. In John 1:9, Jesus referred to Himself as the “true light.” In John 9:5 He said, “I am the light of the world.” In John 1:5 we are told “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” Jesus was the light that came to shine in the world, but some would refuse to recognize it and respond to it. They would end up rejecting the truth. That’s why Jesus side “Take care what you listen to.” This has to do with listening to and responding to the truth. The New Living Translation says it this way, “And be sure to pay attention to what you hear. The more you do this, the more you will understand––and even more, besides.”
This is all about listening and responding. Using what we have been given by God. Not our talents and abilities. But the truth that has been entrusted to us. We have been given insight into the kingdom of God. We have been given the ability to understand the truth of the gospel. Now what are we doing with it? “Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given” (Luke 12:48, NLT). We have been given much. God has shared the truth of new life in Jesus Christ with us. What are we doing with it? Are we allowing it to change us and transform us? Or are we doing nothing with it? Are we resting on our laurels, content to have our “ticket to heaven,” but not doing growing and maturing into Christ-likeness? We have the truth. We live in the light. And the more we understand it and respond to it, the more truth we receive and the brighter the light shines.
Father, thank You for giving me Your truth through Jesus Christ. You are the one who opened my eyes to see. You opened my ears to hear. You have given me much. Help me to continue to respond to the truth I have received by obeying it. You promise to give me more and more. Your supply is endless. Your grace and mercy are never ending. Your wisdom is without bounds. I can never exhaust your supply. Thank you. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men