14The kingdom is also like what happened when a man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned.15The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country.
16As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five thousand coins used them to earn five thousand more.17The servant who had two thousand coins did the same with his money and earned two thousand more.18But the servant with one thousand coins dug a hole and hid his master's money in the ground.
19Some time later the master of those servants returned. He called them in and asked what they had done with his money.20The servant who had been given five thousand coins brought them in with the five thousand that he had earned. He said, “Sir, you gave me five thousand coins, and I have earned five thousand more.”
21“Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”
22Next, the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, “Sir, you gave me two thousand coins, and I have earned two thousand more.”
23“Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”
24The servant who had been given one thousand coins then came in and said, “Sir, I know that you are hard to get along with. You harvest what you don't plant and gather crops where you haven't scattered seed.25I was frightened and went out and hid your money in the ground. Here is every single coin!”
26The master of the servant told him, “You are lazy and good-for-nothing! You know that I harvest what I don't plant and gather crops where I haven't scattered seed.27You could have at least put my money in the bank, so that I could have earned interest on it.”
28Then the master said, “Now your money will be taken away and given to the servant with ten thousand coins!29Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken from those who don't have anything.30You are a worthless servant, and you will be thrown out into the dark where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain.”
Contemporary English Version. Copyright © 1995 British & Foreign Bible Society. Used by permission.
Successful business people understand the importance of measuring their return on investment. Before investing time, finances and other resources in any endeavour, they work out a business plan that will predict how much profit there should be in the project. Romans12 tells us that God has placed within the body of Christ those who are gifted administrators. In the midst of teaching about his return and the establishment of his kingdom, Jesus tells a parable that every Holy Spirit gifted administrator would understand. A businessman goes away on a trip, and leaves a bag of money with three servants. Two of them invest wisely and upon his arrival they show a good return on the investment. They are commended by the master for this. The third servant does nothing with the money entrusted to him and the businessman takes back his money and condemns the lazy man.
It seems to me that there are a couple of important points made here by Christ. First, followers of Jesus are called to invest in matters that have eternal impact. While it is easy enough to just put some money in an offering plate on Sunday, or give to a solid Christian ministry, this parable is more than just about investing finances. We are called to invest all we have in kingdom of God activity. When we do, we can count on a significant spiritual return on our investment.
The second lesson comes from the experience of the third servant. The person who has never experienced the love of God through faith in Jesus Christ often perceives God, if they believe in him at all, as a cruel taskmaster, watching only to find fault, and then to bring judgment. So the gifts that God has graciously given to all are not used to glorify God, and have no eternal value. It is in this sense that they are wasted. It is only when we have come into relationship with Jesus Christ and understand how loving and gracious God is that we use the gifts he has given us for his glory.
Salvation is a free gift. Heaven isn’t obtained or lost by our works. It’s what we do with the resources and abilities that God has provided that speaks volumes about our relationship with him and our understanding of his nature. May we honour and glorify God by using all he has given us in service to him.
Lord, you say in James 1:17 that every good and perfect gift comes from you. Thank you for the most important gift, the gift of eternal life. May we use every gift you give us to honour and glorify your name, investing them in things that have eternal significance. In Jesus’ name. Amen