And as they heard these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem…
The idea is that having is something quite other than mere passive, possession — the upturned, nerveless palm of beggary. Having, real having, is eager, instant, active possession, the sinewy grip. Having is using. Anything not used is already the same as lost. It will be lost by and by. In this sense of having, the more we have, the more we get; the less we have, the less we get. This is law, universal law.
I. THIS LAW OF USE IS PHYSICAL LAW. Muscular force gains nothing by being husbanded. Having is using. And to him that hath, shall be given. He shall grow stronger and stronger. What is difficult, perhaps impossible to-day, shall be easy to-morrow. He that keeps on day by day lifting the calf, shall lift the bullock by and by. More than this. Only he that uses shall even so much as keep. Unemployed strength steadily diminishes. The sluggard's arm grows soft and flabby.
II. THIS LAW OF USE IS COMMERCIAL LAW. Real possession is muscular. The toil, care, sagacity, and self-denial required in getting property, are precisely the toil, care, sagacity, and self-denial required in keeping it. Nay, keeping is harder than getting, a great deal harder. Wise investments often require a genius like that of great generalship. Charles Lamb, in one of his essays, expresses pity for the poor, dull, thriftless fellow who wrapped his pound up in a napkin. But the poor fellow was also to be blamed. Those ten servants, who had the ten pounds given them, were commanded to trade therewith till the master came.
III. THIS LAW OF USE IS MENTAL LAW. Even knowledge, like the manna of old, must needs be fresh. It will not keep. The successful teacher is always the diligent and eager learner. Just when he has nothing new to say, just then his authority begins to wane. Much more is mental activity essential to mental force. It is related of Thorwaldsen that when at last he finished a statue that satisfied him, he told his friends that his genius was leaving him. Having reached a point beyond which he could push no further, his instinct told him that he had already begun to fail. So it proved. The summit of his fame was no broad plateau, but a sharp Alpine ridge. The last step up had to be quickly followed by the first step down. It is so in everything. Ceasing to gain, we begin to lose. Ceasing to advance, we begin to retrograde.
IV. THIS LAW OF USE IS ALSO MORAL LAW. Here lies the secret of character. There is no such thing as standing still. There is no such thing as merely holding one's own. Only the swimmer floats. Only the conqueror is unconquered. Character is not inheritance, nor happy accident, but hardest battle and victory. The fact is, evil never abdicates, never goes off on a vacation, never sleeps. Every day every one of us is ambushed and assaulted; and what we become, is simply our defeat or victory. Not to be crowned victor, is to pass under the yoke. If prayer be, what has pictured it, the watch-cry of a soldier under arms, guarding the tent and standard of his general, then the habit of it ought to be growing on us. For the night is round about us, and, though the stars are out, our enemies are not asleep. H the Bible be what we say it is, we should know it better and better. Written by men, still it has God for its Author, unfathomable depths of wisdom for its contents, and for its shining goal the battlements and towers of the New Jerusalem. So of all the virtues and graces. They will not take care of themselves. Real goodness is as much an industry, as much a business, as any profession, trade, or pursuit of men.
(R. D. Hitchcock, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.