Sunday, February 1, 2009

Use It Or Lose It

The story of the 10 minas in Luke 19 is familiar. A nobleman leaves his estate to journey to a distant land so that he may be appointed king. Before leaving, he calls 10 of his servants to him. To each servant, he gives a mina, about three months’ wages. Then the nobleman tells his servants to put the money to work until he returns.

On his return, the master calls the servants to account for how they invested the money. The first servant wisely invested his mina and earned 10 more. The master praised his service and put him in charge of 10 cities. A second servant’s mina earned five minas more during the master’s absence. The master commended the servant and put him in charge of five cities.

The third servant hands the mina back to his master. The servant explains that he kept the coin in a napkin where it remained untouched, useless, and dormant. The servant said that he was afraid to invest the mina because he knew that his master was a “hard,” uncompassionate man who required what was not due to him.

By way of response, the master turns the false accusations back on the servant. At the very least, the servant should have deposited the mina to gain simple interest—especially since the servant regarded the master as a strict taskmaster who would demand an accounting from him. The master took the third servant’s mina and gave it to the servant who had 10—the servant who made the greatest use of his what had been entrusted to him by the master.

In this parable, three people start on a level playing field. At the end of the story, one ends with 11 minas, another with five, and another with zero. The only differences are the choices they made.

What's Been Entrusted to You?

Although I’ve read this story many times, I always narrowly related it to the stewardship money. But as I read the story again, the Lord asked me, “What have I entrusted to you?”

The obvious answer, after having just reading the story, was money. But I knew that He wanted me to consider all that He has entrusted to my care. I thought of the valuable gifts that He has entrusted me. Years ago, He entrusted two children to my care, and, more recently, grandchildren, as well as a wonderful extended family. He entrusted me with the talents of writing and photography, with health and intelligence, and a home.

Then I added to the list my gifts of the Spirit, which unquestionably have been entrusted to me to invest in the Kingdom until He returns.

Two Choices

Following the parable, we have a choice. We can use what God has given us or not. What would I do with what the Lord has given me? One choice is to do nothing. I considered the snarly, self-centered attitude of the third servant. Was he fearful, or lazy, or was he simply determined to avoid risk at all costs? In today’s vernacular, this would be the person who says, “Why should I do this—I’m only an employee, it’s not my job?” “What if I make a mistake and lose my job. He’s just looking for a reason to fire me?” Or, “Why try? No matter what I do, it won’t be good enough; thus, it’s better to do nothing.”

The other choice is to get busy and put to work what we’ve been given. We look for ways to invest our money, talents, time, and resources in the Kingdom of God. Whatever we’ve been given will increase the more we use it. John Gill notes in his Exposition of the Bible that the Vulgate Latin version adds, “and he shall abound or have abundance.” In the case of the first two servants in the parable, abundance translated into half again as much and double what the servants started with at the beginning.

The parable in Luke 19 promises us that the Lord will give us more if we choose to put to work what He’s already given us. The only thing standing between us and the promise is a simple choice.

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