The Parable of the “Bags of Money”
By: Rev. Fr. David J. Davis, DD, OSP
Verse 14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18 But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. `Master,’ he said, `you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 22 The man with the two talents also came. `Master,’ he said, `you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ 23 His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 24 Then the man who had received the one talent came. `Master,’ he said, `I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 26 His master replied, `You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned, I would have received it back with interest. 28 `Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
You cannot examine this pericope of scripture and be contextually true without the ethical back story. Ethics is how we execute judgment, (the difference between perceived good, evil; right and wrong; excellence vs. mediocrity, or even a truth vs. a lie.) Ethics are the practices of you inner value system. What is not only important to you, but who you are; ..”for as a man thinketh in his heart, that is who they become.”
We are here this morning not to shout, or dance per se, but to grow and change. As we look at the text, we are immediately arrested by the dilemma of someone doing excellent, someone doing mediocre, and someone doing poorly. Notice that the person who does the worst, unlike his counterparts starts off his accountability interview with an excuse already at hand and ready to go. This moment is not a moment of relationship, or family, it is a moment of accountability which is the lifeblood of relationship and family. Members of a group who are simply after benefits with no accountability for their behavior or performance, or productivity are bastards and parasites. What is accountability and why is this not a moment of responsibility? First let me tell you that what you are responsible for is what you were given not in review, but in instructions. I cannot hold you accountable for what I have not made you responsible for. Today you will not leave here without knowing what you are responsible for, and therefore from today forward, you are a steward who is accountable.
Accountability vs. Responsibility- The main difference between responsibility and accountability is that responsibility can be shared while accountability cannot. Notice all received the same instruction. Gays have the same instructions as straights. Poor and rich get the same instructions concerning tithing. Back biters, liars, fornicators, disrespectful folks, haters, jealous folks, envious people, all get the same instructions. Don’t just be a Christian; multiply. Be productive, and don’t just show up in the judgment with the same stuff I gave you. We all share the same responsibility. Be Ye Holy. Being accountable not only means being responsible for something but also ultimately being answerable for your actions. Also, accountability is something you hold a person to only after a task is done or not done. Responsibility can be before and/or after a task.
Theology of Stewardship
Stewardship is a theological belief that humans are responsible for the world, and should take care of it. Stewardship refers to the way time, talents, material possessions, or wealth are used or given for the service of God. A biblical world view of stewardship can be consciously defined as: “Utilizing and managing all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of His creation.” The central essence of biblical world view stewardship is managing everything God brings into the believers’ life in a manner that honors God and impacts eternity.
Stewardship begins and ends with the understanding of God’s ownership of all:
The immediate impact of this fact is the knowledge that we cannot pay God for anything since there is no currency that matches His budget.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13) He owns Time.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1) He owns all material substance.
“To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.” (Deuteronomy 10:14) He own the immaterial worlds.
“The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.” (Leviticus 25:23)
“Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.” (Job 41:11) He doesn’t deal with earthly monies, or currencies.
Stewardship is further supported and sustained theologically on the understanding of God’s holiness as found in such verse as: Genesis 1:2[1:2], Psalm 104, Psalm 113, 1 Chronicles 29:10-20, Colossians 1:16, and Revelation 1:8.
An example of stewardship is in Genesis 2:15. “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” The drive to “serve the garden in which we have been placed” (also Genesis 2:15) sees Christian influence in political and practical affairs.
The concept is also seen in Leviticus 25:1-5 “The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: `When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath to the LORD. 3 For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. 4 But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. 5 Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.” The implication is that the land is not to be exhausted or abused for short-term gains.
Stewardship in Christianity follows from the belief that human beings are created by the same God who created the entire universe and everything in it. To look after the Earth, and thus God’s dominion, is the responsibility of the Christian steward. A useful quote explaining stewardship can be found in Psalm 24:1: “The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it”. A broader concept of stewardship is illustrated in Jesus’ parable of the “talents”, which refer to an amount of money but by implication (and by common use of the word in English) as “abilities.”Additionally, frequent references to the “tithe”, or giving of a “tenth” (the meaning of “tithe) are found throughout the Bible. The tithe represents the returning to God a significant, specific, and intentional portion of material gain. However, giving is not limited to the tithe or a specific amount, illustrated by Jesus’ comment that a woman who gave a very small amount had given more than those had given large amounts because “while they gave out of their abundance, she gave all she had to live on.” (Mark 12.41-44; Luke 21.1-4)
In the text there are three key things we want to walk away from the text with:
- God is the one who calls us from outside of time, He is the One who entrusts us with earthly goods or wealth.
- He is the one that distributes such time, talent, and financial wealth as He sees fit.
- It’s none of my business where the money came from, it’s none of my business where the gifting in my life came from. It’s none of business how long somebody else has got to do what they need to do.
In short, stop measuring things by what others did, didn’t; will, won’t; can, cannot do!
Be content with such things as you have!
Focus on your response to what God gave to you.
Whatever you lost, now is the time to get back.
Fix long term stuff, one day at a time, cause they are usually too big to tackle in one day.