Politicians have what are called “stump speeches.” These are repeated messages to crowds that get across a basic platform of ideas upon which he is seeking office. And at the risk of an illustration failing because of the odious nature of politicians in our day, bear with the analogy for a moment. Jesus had “stump speech teachings.” There is nothing wrong with that. As he went from place to place, surely he repeated the same messages and told the same parables … or similar stories.
Here today we have a parable of 10 servants who are given one mina each (a mina being equal to about three months of wages). In Matthew 25:14-30, a similar parable is recorded of the eight bags of gold given to three servants – five to the first, two to the second, and one to third servant.
Which of these parables actually happened? Both of them … on different occasions. But the basic teaching from each is the same, including three points and three applications. First, let’s read the passage …
Luke 19:11 – While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”
Point 1 – Everything that the master/king possessed belonged ultimately to the master/king.
Point 2 – During the period that the master/king was gone, the servants were entrusted with a responsibility and expectation of multiplying those resources through wise thought and extensive effort.
Point 3 – There was the certainty of a day of accounting when the master/king would reappear, with generous reward for those who were faithful in their work, and loss of reward for those who were irresponsible.
Application 1 – Do we really believe that all we have belongs to God? God not only gives us what we have, but whatever abilities, talents and skills we have toward material gain have also come from him. Beyond that, God sustains us with all we possess; he could choose to remove it all from us at any time.
Application 2 – Do we choose to be faithful to use the resources God has graciously given us? Are we being Kingdom-minded with what we have? Those gifts could be more than mere treasures, it includes also time and talents. We all know how easy it is to get tight-fisted and fearful that we should cling to resources for personal pleasure or security.
Application 3 – Do we truly believe that our master/king Jesus is coming back and that we will have a day of accounting? It is rather clear from more than merely a few Scriptures that our use of material resources is building eternal treasure and reward … or, sadly, the lack thereof.