Luke 19:12-13, 20-24 (NIV): He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’…
“Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 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.’
“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? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
“Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’”
Just as in Jesus’ day, there are many in our time whose preoccupation is the appearing of the kingdom of God in all its fullness. These days that tends to be focused on Jesus’ return, its timing, and the order and timing of events surrounding it. But, as Jesus pointed out many times (most notably and explicitly in Acts 1:7), that is not to be the focus of God’s people. His instructions were quite clear as to where our focus should always be: be ready, and be found doing His work when He returns.
Too many today believe themselves to be ready simply because they are “saved.” But far too few are diligently doing Jesus’ work, obeying His commandment to go and make disciples of all nations. They forget this parable of Jesus in which the man of noble birth (Jesus) goes away to have Himself appointed King, and then returns. In the interim, He leaves His wealth (the kingdom of God, salvation, redemption) in the hands of His servants, with the express directive to “put this money to work until I come back.”
At least two of the servants obey, each one showing increases in the money the Master left. These are praised by the Master, and given great rewards. The last servant has merely “kept safe” that which the Master had left in his care. He lost not a penny of it, but he showed no increase, no multiplication of what the Master had left to him. The Master’s response is immediate and harsh. His instructions had NOT been to keep the money safe, but to put it to work so that it would increase and grow to the Master’s credit. Merely keeping it safe was not caution, it was active disobedience. In the final judgment, the Master took the money from the disobedient servant, and gave it to the one who had been most faithful in multiplying the resources of the Master.
The application is easy to see. Jesus has indeed gone away to receive His kingdom in due time. In the meantime, He has left His servants in charge of growing His kingdom, being witnesses (Acts 1:8) and making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). This commission was not merely to those first century disciples, but to everyone who receives eternal life as a result of repentance and receiving Jesus as their Savior and Lord. This salvation, even more precious than the minas in the parable, is not to be merely kept safe, but is to be “put to work” in bringing salvation to others, in growing the kingdom, and in showing a powerful increase in the numbers of people who are saved.
And this work is not just for the “professional” ministers of the gospel. In our age, the paid ministers, those who hold official positions of leadership in the Church, hold almost the whole burden of bringing in the increase, of leading people into the kingdom. Most of the others don’t see it as a part of their job as a Christian. But putting our salvation to work and multiplying those in the kingdom is the job of every single believer – it is the job that we have been left with; the job that we must be found diligently doing when Jesus returns. Otherwise, we will be ashamed before Jesus when He returns, standing there with our one mina, laid away safe and secure, but totally unproductive.
Father, this is too important to ignore! Help us to put our salvation to work this very day. Help us to share out story of how Your love has touched us and changed us with everyone we meet, so that we can multiply the souls coming into Your kingdom. Lord, let us never be content with standing by while others do the work You have left for each of us, but help us to be diligent and faithful servants, that You will find hard at the work of Your kingdom when You return. Amen!