In Matthew 13 Christ teaches such a wonderful principle when it comes to the concept of prosperity and abundance in his Parable of the Sower. In vs. 12 Jesus says "for whosoever receiveth, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever continueth not to receive, from him shall be taken away even that he hath".
Previously I understood receiving to be a passive principle - I sit around and wait for things to come. If I like it, I take it - if not, I ignore it or let it go. These scriptures teach us that receiving is something we have to be proactive about.
It is also in these verses that we learn why Jesus teaches in parables - to give us the opportunity to receive. In other words, the Savior teaches in ways that make us search for the answers, and then choose what to do with them. The process of receiving and finding truths is an essential truth in and of itself.
In the parable of the sower a man plants seeds and they fall into four different places, and also explains later what each of these places represent:
- Some fall by the way side, which represents those who are taught correct principles and don't understand them. This teaches us that not only is receiving something we have to be active about - so is understanding. If we don't "get it", it's our job to study it out until we do.
- Others fall in stony places - someone receives the word with joy, "yet hath he not root in himself". This reminds me of yesterday's post - maybe this represents those without "good treasures" in their hearts. I know this happens to me sometimes - I hear or see a principle at work that moves me or testifies of its truthfulness, I feel great for that moment, but I don't actually allow it to change my behavior.
- Some seeds grow and are choked by thorns, or in other words, the word grows yet is destroyed or at least stunted by the deceitfulness of the world. This makes me think of the phrase "philosophies of men mingled with scripture", or perhaps the allowing of current self-help fads to dictate our study of the gospel and not vice versa.
- Finally, some fall onto good ground, and in this case Christ teaches us exactly what this means. Here He also explains what it means to receive: we 1) hear the word, 2) understand it, then 3) make it grow to the the point that it bears fruit, or becomes internally motivated action. The Savior also states that different people will provide varying amounts of fruit, and that doesn't seem to be a problem at all.
May we all seek out good seeds and make them grow...
(by the way, the painting in this post is a favorite of mine by Pieter Bruegel entitled "The Parable of the Sower")