Our Stepping Stones class studied the parable of the ten minas in Luke 19:12-27 this week. This story is of course very similar to the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, but they are actually different parables told at different times. Luke helps us see the setting for this particular parable when he adds that “they were getting close to Jerusalem by this time and expectation was building that God’s kingdom would appear any minute” (v. 1, The Message). Jesus begins his parable in an intriguing way: A royal prince departs on a journey to receive the right to rule his country. In his absence, he commits ten minas (about a four-month’s wage) to ten of his servants with the simple instructions, “Do business until I return.” Verse 14 then states, “But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.'” Jesus’ audience would have immediately remembered how, just a few decades earlier, Archelaus, son of Herod the Great, had departed for Rome to secure the right to reign in Palestine. His citizens promptly sent a delegation to Rome as well to oppose his rule. You see, Jesus was leveraging a story that his audience would have been extremely familiar with to teach them that God’s kingdom would not appear immediately and that the Son’s rule would be bitterly opposed. But, what really matters, Jesus goes on, is our faithfulness as we wait for Him to return. Hence, the servants with the minas.
So, we come to the first servant. The first servant takes the biggest risk of all and ends up increasing his master’s profits by 10X! The master is delighted and gives him ten cities to rule over. The second servant gains 5X and gets five cities. But then we come to the last servant. Verses 20-21 in The Voice put his words this way: “Lord, I have successfully preserved the money you gave me. I wrapped it up in a napkin and hid it away because I was afraid of you. After all, you’re a tough man. You have a way of taking a profit without making an investment and harvesting when you didn’t plant any seed.” Let’s pause for a second at verse 21 – “Because I was afraid of you.” You see, the first thing that goes wrong here is that the servant misunderstands the character of the Master. As a result, he is paralyzed by fear. (As Christians, fear should never be a part of our relationship with God! See Rom. 8:15.) The servant dreads that he will be punished for trying and failing. So instead, because he misunderstood the character and the purpose of the King, he refuses to risk anything for the kingdom.
Now, this may all seem a little abstract when we try to apply this lesson spiritually, but let’s remember what the “economy” of God’s kingdom is all about. It has nothing to do with money or financial resources – it has everything to do with people! The unfaithful servant in God’s kingdom is one who never took a risk to help and invest in his fellow brothers and sisters in this world. We have all kinds of excuses we can throw: “It’s not safe out there,” “I’m afraid of failing,” “I don’t want to get involved in their messiness,” “They might take advantage of me!” Like the servant, we may think we will be rewarded for “playing it safe” all of our lives and safely tucking away our spiritual blessings, but at the end of it, the Master will respond that we completely missed the point! It’s all about giving of ourselves and investing in others, just as Christ poured Himself out for us!
So how do we get to this place in our lives? Maybe we can start by spending time each day getting to know the character of our Master and the purpose of His kingdom. As our hearts grow more and more in harmony with Him, it will become only natural for us to live out His mission!