11 While the people were listening to these things, Jesus told them a story. He was near Jerusalem. The people thought that God’s kingdom was going to appear right away. 12 Jesus said, “A man from an important family went to a country far away. He went there to be made king and then return home. 13 So he sent for ten of his slaves. He gave them each about three months’ pay. ‘Put this money to work until I come back,’ he said. 14 “But those he ruled over hated him. They sent some messengers after him. They were sent to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ 15 “But he was made king and returned home. Then he sent for the slaves he had given the money to. He wanted to find out what they had earned with it. 16 “The first one came to him. He said, ‘Sir, your money has earned ten times as much.’ 17 “ ‘You have done well, my good slave!’ his master replied. ‘You have been faithful in a very small matter. So I will put you in charge of ten towns.’ 18 “The second slave came to his master. He said, ‘Sir, your money has earned five times as much.’ 19 “His master answered, ‘I will put you in charge of five towns.’ 20 “Then another slave came. He said, ‘Sir, here is your money. I have kept it hidden in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you. You are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in. You harvest what you did not plant.’ 22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you evil slave! So you knew that I am a hard man? You knew that I take out what I did not put in? You knew that I harvest what I did not plant? 23 Then why didn’t you put my money in the bank? When I came back, I could have collected it with interest.’ 24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his money away from him. Give it to the one who has ten times as much.’ 25 “ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten times as much!’ 26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that everyone who has will be given more. But here is what will happen to anyone who has nothing. Even what they have will be taken away from them. 27 And what about my enemies who did not want me to be king over them? Bring them here! Kill them in front of me!’ ”
This parable challenges and inspires me every time I read it. The parable has two types of servants – those that do something with what the master gives, and one servant who does nothing with what the master gives. He fears the master, and this fear stops him doing anything with the money he’s given. Could it be that Jesus is suggesting that to “have” from Him is not simply to possess what has been given, but to “put it to work” like the first two servants do?
In contrast, the third servant remained in possession of the money, but kept it “laid away” rather than putting it to work. Is to” have nothing” not to possess nothing but to do nothing with what one has been given?
What was the difference between the servants that caused their different behaviour? It would appear to be that the third servant feared the master and his character, where the first two had no such problem.
I read that Jesus wants me to put to work what I’ve been given by Him – my gifts and skills, my time, my resources. But Jesus most important point for me is – how I feel about Him and perceive Him can be the difference between putting to work what I’ve been given and doing nothing what I’ve been given and losing it all. Being afraid of Him will shut me down – causing what I’ve been given to be “laid away”, gathering dust. This does not help me and it certainly doesn’t please Jesus.
Lord, I want to be of the first two servants, not the third. Show me where my perception of you is fearful and afraid, and give me a right perspective of you. I want to be confident and courageous in your service, but that means I’ve got to be confident and free with you. Help my heart be totally free before you, always, so I can effectively put to work what you’ve given me. Amen.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh