Our Work for God

While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 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.’ (Luke 19:11-13)

In our verses for today, Jesus begins the Parable of the Ten Minas. Those that followed Jesus were expecting the kingdom of God to appear at once. Wanting to readjust their thinking, Jesus gives them this parable. Two principles seem to be presented here: First, whatever we have been given, whether great or small, comes from God’s hand and is entrusted to us for a season; secondly, we are going to be held accountable for the responsibilities that we have been given. The whole of Scripture confirms both of these teachings:

“The parable of the talents is our Lord’s statement with regard to the danger of leaving undone the work of the lifetime.”
-Oswald Chambers

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

On the basis of grace, God gives His children a wide variety of gifts to be used for kingdom work. These gifts are given to us individually, but they are not solely for us–they are to be used for the common good of the body, the Church. Paul tells us:

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
(1 Corinthians 12:4-7)

Peter echoes this same message, calling us each to be good stewards of the gifts we have received:

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)

Everything belongs to God! I am reminded of God’s words in Haggai which describe His ultimate ownership and providential control of the wealth of all nations:

‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. (Haggai 2:8)

God also speaks through the pen of Asaph in Psalm 50 saying:

I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.
(Psalm 50:9-11)

As His servants, we are to use these gifts through the Holy Spirit’s power to point others to Jesus. This is what He means when He tells us that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), and that we will do even greater works than He (John 14:12). We can know that we are on the right track if it is Jesus who gets the glory for our actions rather than ourselves. As John the Baptist poignantly states:

“A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:27-30)

Ultimately, we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. The Bible teaches that it matters how we live our lives:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

Take It to Heart

One day our lives will be evaluated by the Master. Our motivation and perseverance will flow out of our love for Jesus in order for us to accomplish all that He has for us to do. In commending the Thessalonians, Paul states:

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

If our work is produced by faith, our labor prompted by love, and our endurance inspired by our hope in Jesus we are certain to hear:

“‘Well done, my good servant!’ (Luke 19:17)

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