Not For Sale
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What Did You Do With Ten Thousand Bags of Gold?
If stewardship is used as the yardstick to qualify believers for heaven, almost everybody will be disqualified. This explains why the Lord Jesus plotted the grace of forgiveness in the context of stewardship. One of the anticipated and prevalent failures of meeting the expectations of the Kingdom of Heaven is in stewardship. Unless we are forgiven by God’s grace, we have no chance paying the debt of stewardship. Having said that, should we flout the principles of good stewardship because grace will cover for us? By no means (Rom. 6:1-2). Ironically, only those who don’t take advantage of the grace are destined to benefit from it.
“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
“But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.”—Matthew 18:23-34.
A day for accounting is a day for reward—if we did the right thing; it is also a day for sentence—if we did the wrong thing. Although the subject matter in the above scripture is forgiveness, it also brings to mind a failed stewardship.
The servant owed his master ten thousand bags of gold (NIV). The question is: What did he do with that large amount of gold? We may not tell the size of the bags, but the impression is that it was a large amount of gold. He was not able to pay and though he besought his master that he would pay with time, his master knew he would not be able to pay anytime soon.
I am smelling misappropriation by the steward, that is, he must have used the gold for what it was not meant. He neither saved nor invested it. If he invested, it must have been a bad investment where he incurred definitive loss. There are chances he may have been living beyond his means.
It is also possible that the man used to ‘borrow’ small amounts of the gold over a period of time. He must have been oblivious to the cumulative effect of the small amounts he was taking. If this was the case, it is a warning against addictive behaviour. If we repeatedly take something, it doesn’t matter how small amounts we take each time, the snowballing effect will raise the value to intimidating proportions over a period of time. Take for example addictive smokers, if you compute the amount of money they use on cigarettes per year, you wouldn’t need to be surprised. If someone has smoked for ten years and the Lord says that the money he used for smoking was misappropriation, that he has to pay it back, he would be shocked at how much money it is. Only forgiveness of the Lord would save the person.
The conclusion of the matter is that what is fraudulently acquired will most likely be imprudently utilized. This man, despite the great wealth that had been in his custody or had passed through his hands, still remained a ‘servant’. The wealth seemed to have been squandered; it vanished and that is why he wasn’t able to pay. The day of accounting caught up with him, he didn’t seem to be prepared for it.
We are not told how much wealth the Prodigal Son inherited from his father (Lk. 15:11-19). What we know is that a ‘wild living’ devours wealth like fire consuming dry leaves.
Reflections and Questions to Ponder
- What is the most important thing you have learnt from this chapter?
- There is an axiom that says: When the deal is too good, think twice. Can you tell when an intervening opportunity is a distracting strategy?
- I had asked this question above, let me bring it here as well for a deeper reflection: When God puts wealth in our hands to manage in this generation, what is the primary purpose? Is it to live large and luxurious or is it to minister to others?
- “Esther remained focused on and loyal to the original mission. She never opted for half the kingdom.” What do you think could have happened if she chose half the kingdom?
- What are some of the addictive behaviours that make people engage in misappropriation of resources and accumulation of big debts? How can such behaviours be stopped?
- In what ways can we misappropriate time and talents?
- What are the strategies you can use to stop yourself from misappropriating resources, time and talents?
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