Jesus said, Whoever has something in his hand will receive more, and whoever has nothing will be deprived of even the little he has. (41)
Brill: “He who has in his hand, to him shall be given; and he who has not, from him shall be taken even the little that he has.”
The Gospel of Matthew has: “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” (13:12). And: “Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath” (25:29; see verses 14-30 for a parable on this).
This verse presents a vital spiritual principle, one which everyone ought to know, but which few really do. Spiritual and material life often parallel one another. There are spiritual assets just as there are material assets, and laws of spiritual abundance just as there are laws of material abundance, one aspect of which is spiritual evolution and insight.
Spiritual life is always presented in the West as some kind of holy hobby, a free gift of the Heavenly Father to his indulged and obedient children. Not so. It is as much a livelihood as any worldly profession, and even more demanding. Spiritual attainment which empowers the aspirant for further spiritual endeavor is the coin, the needed asset, the “something” this verse is all about.
He who has in his hand, to him shall be given. One who actually possesses spiritual development in the sense that he can draw on it to help or guide him through life–use it in a very practical sense–will as a consequence be able to increase his store of spiritual power and proficiency. It is the nature of spiritual energy to increase by drawing more to itself, as a magnet draws iron. For this reason, those who carefully preserve their spiritual assets through steady spiritual practice and allow no diminishment or damage to them will find their spiritual treasury increasing automatically.
And he who has not, from him shall be taken even the little that he has. Sometimes a person suddenly comes into possession of a degree of spiritual awakening through the action of past karma or through the grace of God or a holy person. If such a one immediately acts on this good fortune and makes the spiritual power or impetus his own, it will be the beginning of his spiritual ascent. If not, the result will be very negative and he may have ruined his only spiritual chance for this lifetime or even future lifetimes.
One time Bishop Fulton Sheen was in Paris. He celebrated Mass in the famous Sacred Heart Church, and on his way out was stopped by a man who wanted to speak with a priest. Bishop Sheen invited him to breakfast, and the result was that they spent the entire day together with the man eagerly asking him about spiritual life. The man’s intensity revealed that his situation was desperate. When they parted, Bishop Sheen agreed to meet with him the next morning at his hotel.
The next morning the man came to the hotel with a woman in tow, and proceeded to stand in the lobby and sneer at the bishop and mock all they had spoken about the day before. Then he turned and walked out without even a token farewell. The bishop understood: the man had met the woman and committed fornication with her the night before. Heaven had slipped from his grasp and hell had gripped him. He had fallen into the abyss about which it has been said: “Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:26). He had become one of those “delivered into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (II Peter 2:4). The word translated “judgment” is krisis, which means to become separated and cast out. Of course the man was not damned forever, but even temporary cutting off from spiritual opportunity results in confusion and suffering throughout this life at least. Such people do not need to die to go to hell, they are there already. When Bishop Sheen told of this incident he was deeply sad, but there was nothing he could do, “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
“The little that he has” becomes nothing. Those who fall into this condition are those about whom God himself says: “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
Read the next article in the Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: Move On