The master says, “Put this money to work until I come back.” How should the servants do that? They are not told.
God leaves us free to choose how we use our gifts, like loving parents leave their children free to follow their own bliss and passions.
It’s the same when it comes to our spiritual questions: How much should I pray? How long should I study Scripture? How much money should I give? In the New Testament, there are no answers. It’s left up to us.
2 We live in an abundant universe in which turning one minas into ten–a staggering rate of return– is quite possible. The master is pleased but not overwhelmed by the servant’s rate of return.
Abundance is encoded in the universe, in the seeds of tomatoes and apples; in the minds of people who can dream up an infinity of good ideas; and buried under the soul which is forever turning dropped leaves and the bones of dead creatures into diamonds, precious stones and fossil fuel.
3 The rewards God offers us are exceedingly abundant, out of all proportion to the good deeds of the servants. A minas was three months salary. He turns, let’s say, 10K into 100K which is stunning. But he is rewarded with ten cities—and the minas of the unfaithful servant.
Because God is good, the benefits of serving him always outweigh the cost. The sense of peace and shalom and provision God offers us is out of all proportion to the little things we might do for the love of him.
Ten cities for ten minas! “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desire not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, we are like ignorant children who want to continue making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”).
Serving God is win-win. The master gets the ten minas; the servant gets the ten cities, and a minas.
4 We are judged fairly, on our effort, not on the outcome.
The ten servants were all given a minas each.
Some things are allocated almost equally. We each have 168 hours a week, a body, a mind, are born into families. But there are, of course, huge variables of talent, opportunity, and nurture, just as the servant who turned a minas into ten may have had more energy, intelligence, business talent and connections than the one who turned it into five.
We are not judged comparatively, but according to what we have done with what we have received. The ones who turned their minas into ten and five are each rewarded, though their rewards differ in accordance with their abilities.
5 The wicked servant is judged harshly for misjudging his master’s character. He wasn’t a hard man, in fact, but an exceedingly generous one.
The servant’s ungenerous stingy calculating spirit was just the opposite of the master’s generous spirit.
A. W. Tozer writes in The Root of the Righteous,
It is most important to our spiritual welfare that we hold in our minds always a right conception of God. If we think of Him as cold and exacting, we shall find it impossible to love Him, and our lives will be ridden with servile fear. If, again, we hold Him to be kind and understanding, our whole inner life will mirror that idea.
The truth is that God is the most winsome of all beings and His service is one of unspeakable pleasure. He is all love, and those who trust Him need never know anything but that love.
Fellowship with God is delightful beyond all telling. He communes with His redeemed ones in an easy, uninhibited fellowship that is restful and healing to the soul.
6 A principle that’s true in the natural and spiritual worlds: “To everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.
That’s just the way the world works: the rich get richer, we live in an increasingly winner-take-all society.
In the spiritual realm, God constantly tests us, and as we pass each test, we are given new opportunities, and new challenges.
“If you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.” C. S. Lewis in The Horse and His Boy
7 The spiritual life often has tests which we are unaware of.
The servants thought it was just a job: Put the minas to work. In fact, it was their destiny which was being decided. They thought they would have to turn over their profits to the master, and that was that. But those who were conscientious and dutiful were rewarded massively. Those who played safe and shirked ironically lost everything.
Similarly, the trials which come our way are often tests of character–to strengthen it or reveal it. Who hasn’t had the experience of disproportionate suffering or blessing following upon apparently trivial actions?
8 The parable is really about spiritual truth.
Spiritual truth is living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword, alive like a seed, like yeast.
As we obey and share what we have understood, we are given more insight. If we do nothing with our insights, we tend to forget what we have learned, and our insights vanish into the mists.
10 Life is Not Fair but God is Good
“To everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away,” might not seem entirely fair. The one who turned one minas into ten rather than five may have been cleverer, better connected, more energetic—and then in addition to all these gifts, he get the leadership of ten cities, and the minas of the lazy servant
Ultimately, we have to bow to the sovereignty of God. Life is not fair, but that’s okay for God is good, as Mark Buchanan says in this fabulous essay.