What does Matthew 13:12 mean?


In Matthew 13:12 it says, "For 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." What does this mean?


"And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.' But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it" (Matthew 13:10-17)

Let's start with a basic principle that appears frequently in this world: It takes focused effort to improve. A lack of effort doesn't mean stagnation, it means decay.

  • If you exercise your muscles, you will become stronger. You stop excercising, you don't keep the muscles you have, you begin losing them and it is possible to end up with less than what you started with.
  • If you work on a building, you can create a house. But if you stop all efforts on the building, it will eventually fall apart and the mess will be worse than what you started with.

The same principle applies to learning. If you work at understanding something, you can grasp new ideas easier and constantly grow in knowledge. If you stop learning, then you will start losing ground and can actually go backward.

Jesus had used parables that confused the disciples. The parables were not difficult to understand once a person gets the sense of how they operate, yet the great religious minds of the day completely missed the points while the humble hearts of common people, eager to learn, grasped them. Thus the lack of understanding would prove how poorly these great minds knew Godís Word. The disciples were particularly blessed because the things they would understand were things prophets in the past eagerly desired to learn, but were unable to do so.

So even when a person has a small amount of understanding, it will lead him to greater understanding as he continues to search and study God's word. A person who thinks he has all he needs, who doesn't apply himself to trying to learn more, will lose ground in the amount that he understands.