I came across the word “insight” recently, defined as the understanding of a specific cause and effect within a specific situation.  Also an understanding of the inner workings of things.  It also refers to having insight into oneself.  Psychologists say insight is when there is the sudden discovery of a correct solution following incorrect attempts based on trial and error.  An “Ah-ha!” moment!

Jesus defined a lack of insight as follows: someone who is: “ever hearing but never understanding…. Ever seeing but never perceiving.”   Matthew 13:14

He was teaching the Parable of the Four Soils and his disciples asked Him why He taught in parables.  Jesus explained that he was not hiding truth from sincere seekers, but if they were receptive to spiritual truths (spiritually hungry) they would understand spiritual illustrations. For all others, it would just be a good story.

Deeper hearing would result in spiritual hearing and deeper seeing would result in spiritual seeing.

Jesus goes on to point out that:

“Whoever has will be given more, and have in abundance.  Whoever does not have, even that which he has will be taken from him.” 

So whoever has spiritual insight, will be given more to the level of abundance (a great harvest from the seeds of truth planted in a receptive heart).  But whoever does not have spiritual insight, even that which he has will be taken away from him, not by God himself, but by the enemy (represented by the birds) who will eat up the good seed that is not being used productively.

Jesus longed for people who would: “see with their eyes…hear with their ears… understand with their hearts and turn…I would heal them.” (Matt 13:15.)  Jesus longs to bring about healing in our lives.

Gaining insight is a vital part of our spiritual growth; it is part of preparing our hearts for the truth to take root and our lives to be productive.

In Hebrews 5:11 we find a group of people who lacked insight despite hours and hours of good teaching and thousands of opportunities to gain insight.  They are described as “spiritually immature” needing baby milk instead of solid food.  The reason for their spiritual state is described in the NIV as “slow to learn.”  The King James says: “dull of hearing” and the Message: “picked up this bad habit of not listening.”  But I love the Amplified: “dull in your

[spiritual] hearing and sluggish [even slothful in achieving spiritual insight.]”

Spiritual maturity is the result of matching spiritual insight from scriptural truths (hearing, seeing and understanding) with practice. 

The passage goes on to say that these spiritually mature have “trained themselves” through constant use of the word.  They have not waited for others to teach them, or train them, but have taken responsibility for their spiritual growth, they themselves have been responsible for their own growth.

The result is that they are characterized by being able to discern between good and evil.  They are able to discern their personal life path according to scripture and make correction.  They are able to recognize temptation before it traps them.  They are able to discern between truth and false teaching, as well as the correct and incorrect use of scripture.

Are you a person like this, or are we like the man in James 1:23 “who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like?” 

Spiritual growth is our responsibility.

James 1:22 tells us to not “merely listen to the word and so deceive ourselves, we are to do what it says.”

I have been challenged to not merely see and hear the word, but to gain insight from it.  Then to use this insight, to find practical ways to apply it into my life, so that I may become spiritually mature.  Have you been challenged?

If you enjoyed this post, also see:

A Vital Spiritual Discipline

Using a Devotional

Don’t Nibble, Eat!

Five Obstacles to Spiritual Growth