In this series, we’ve been examining the biblical truth of stewardship. God gave us everything that we have, and He wants us to be good and fruitful stewards of the wealth that He has entrusted to us. In fact, He wants to see us make His money grow.
To help us understand these truths, we’ve been studying the Parable of the Bags of Gold (or the Parable of the Talents, as it’s traditionally called) found in Matthew 25:14-30. If you’re unfamiliar with the parable, you can read the full text here. If you know the story, though, let’s focus on the key to making God’s money grow — hard work.
Hard work is a crucial part of stewardship. If we aren’t willing to work, we will never succeed with the talents or resources that we’ve been given, and we’ll never see those things grow into something greater. Let’s look verses 16 and 17 in the parable:
The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more.
Notice the wording of the first sentence. It says that the first servant “went at once” and started working. Other translations say that he “immediately” went to work. The second servant, who was equally profitable, did the same.
Sometimes we can learn important lessons from details that aren’t included in a biblical story, and I think that this is one of those instances. The parable doesn’t tell us what kind of work the two servants did, or what strategies they used to manage their wealth. If those things had mattered, Jesus would have included them. But He did not include them, so we must draw the conclusion that they don’t really matter. What He did include, though, is the fact that they immediately went to work.
What can we learn from this? That work is the key ingredient involved in being fruitful stewards of our resources. And while I think that we should all seek out our specific callings and professions for this life, what really matters is that we work hard — no matter what that looks like.
As far as we know, hard work is the only thing that the first two servant had in common that caused them to succeed. It’s also the thing that the third servant lacked (later in the text, the master calls him “wicked” and “lazy”). The third servant was not only scared and foolish — he was also a sloth. Since his master was leaving on a long journey, he saw an opportunity to kick back and take it easy for a few months, thinking that he would get away with it. After all, “the boss wasn’t looking.” He did not grow his master’s wealth because he was unwilling to do the work that it would require.
Sometimes when life is tough and our personal financial pictures look bleak, it’s easy to blame our lack of success on a perceived lack of talent, opportunities or abilities. But when we tell ourselves that we’re not able to do anything, we’re buying into a lie. The third servant wasn’t incompetent. He had the ability to produce wealth (remember, the master gave each servant money to steward “according to his ability“). This servant was able to work and produce wealth. He simply chose not to… and he paid a high price for it in the end.
God has given us each talents, time and treasure. He intends for us to use those things to be fruitful for His kingdom. Those of us who are willing to roll up our sleeves, get dirty and break a sweat can count on a great reward. Without some effort, though, we’re doomed to failure.
So, who’s ready to get to work?
Photo by Teresa Williams. Used under Creative Commons License.