The Parable of the Talents (bags of gold in NIV 2011) and Ten Minas have many similarities that might be summarized by saying, doing nothing is unacceptable. Do something with what you’ve been given.
Resources (talents) + Labor (work) + Time = Profit
From the reference in Bible.org we see a formula for the adage I grew up with. I can still hear my dad saying, “work hard, the cream will always rise to the top.” Whether profit or cream, working hard is just the way we’re designed. Add integrity to that principle and I believe you have a faithful formula for life.
Integrity * (Resources + Labor + Time) = Greater Profit
Not to get all geeky with formulas, I just think it’s important to include integrity in the equation. Do what you said you would do. Walk with integrity.
This morning, my focus is not so much on the servants that did something, but on the one who buried his talent or hid his mina. Is there integrity if you say, “I will do nothing,” and then follow through and do nothing? While that might be consistent, Jesus is pretty clear here, that is unacceptable. Each has been given something, some talent, some ability–do something!
In our star-studded culture that thrives on self-centered comparisons this might be difficult to appreciate. But fame and fortune are fleeting in this life. The purpose of the parables is not to applaud our business savvy, rather it’s to get us thinking about the eternal future, preparing us for far greater things. Take a look at the introductory words in Luke:
While they were listening to this [For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost], 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.
They, or in this case, we, were just reading about Zacchaeus and how Jesus has come to seek and save the lost when he expands the concept with this parable. The stakes are eternally high. Some will be gained into the kingdom and some will be lost forever. We have a responsibility to grow the kingdom with God’s inspiration and help. Here’s the compelling part of the story: we can do something, we can have a positive impact! We don’t know when Jesus will return again, so stop trying to figure that out and do something with what we’ve been given, whatever time we have in this life, let’s use it for great gain in the name of Jesus.
*mina == about three months’ wages