Closing out this critical parable in Luke 19 is both revealing and regrettable. It is revealing in that the nobleman gave unmistakable commands to his servants anticipating his return and his coming kingdom. The servants that obeyed were resplendently rewarded. In like manner, God’s blueprint for growing the church is clearly laid out several times. Every believer (servant) is given a divine operating asset for the building of the church (Eph. 4:7-16; Rom. 12:3-11; 1 Cor. 12-14) and the results are also unmistakable.
We are going to be judged and either rewarded (gold, silver, precious stones) or lose rewards (wood, hay, and stubble) at the Judgment Seat of Christ for how we have invested our assets (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10-13). To know and do our giftedness is the way that we fulfill the stewardship of the manifold grace of God given to us by our king (1 Peter 4:7-11). When we come to grips with the knowledge that the King gives us no other options for building His body, the truth is cemented. We either know our gifts and do them or we do not!
It is regrettable because the disobedient servant in the parable denied his Lord – the nobleman. He hid away the mina that the master had given him to invest, saying, “Master, you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow.” The nobleman told those who stood by, “Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas. To everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” It is regrettable because the servant called him master with his mouth, but in truth he had very little respect for his position, his authority to rule. The servant’s failure to obey and the lame excuse that he gave brought to the surface his hidden feelings. The nobleman simply exposed these feelings.
Jesus said, “Why do you call me lord lord and do not what I say?” (Lk 6:46). The servant knowingly disobeyed and his excuse was very lame, so he lost it all. We have every reason to expect the same results as the servants in our parable – the good and the bad. Many sincere believers have allowed Satan to so distort and confuse the real meaning and use of some of the more showy gifts – tongues, miracles, gifts of healing, etc. – that they have jettisoned the gifts of teaching, faith, helps, administration, mercy, evangelism, exhortation, giving, and shepherding. We need to take the time to truly understand the gifts to the point that we really know what they are and how to use them. In many cases, we have substituted our own worldly methods for growing a church – methods that will bring the crowd but never grow the church.
Satan is a deceiver and he is good at his trade. He has distorted the credibility of Scripture, the gospel, and the church. When he confuses us, it is never in the areas that are trivial but crucial. His methods are legion.
Finally, Paul admonished us to “judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Cor. 4:5). Some of Paul’s last words, one may call them his dying words, to Timothy come to mind. “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:11-13).
We died with Him the moment we trusted in Him. We are identified both with His death and His life (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:1-4). To endure is to be faithful to do that which God put us on this earth to do – namely our work of faith. We should be able to add our names to the list of the faithful in Hebrews 11. To deny him is not to deny that we know Him, nor is it to deny that He knows us, but it is to mimic the unprofitable servant in our parable; it is to deny the command for the stewardship responsibility that He has given to us (1 Cor. 4:1-2). Even if we are faithless, if we drop every spiritual ball that God hands to us, He remains faithful. Why? Because He cannot deny Himself – He can never deny His own body, His bride, His church. Stay safe and stay tuned.