I have to be honest, I don’t identify much with the $5k man in this parable that I blogged about yesterday. But I do identify with the $2k man in this parable. The man given $2k gained $2k more. He wasn’t afraid of risk but didn’t have the skill or capital of the $5k guy.
Sometimes I have tried to get God to move me from the $2k bracket to the $5k bracket by promising: “Lord, if you would just let me win $10 million from the Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes, I promise to give $9 million dollars back to you.” It hasn’t happened yet and that’s probably because of this humbling phrase in this parable that says,
“The master gave to each person according to their ability.”
Our Lord knows how much wealth we can handle.
$2k people are not wealthy by American standards. They don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars stored up. But they are blessed with enough to pay their bills, and live in nice houses and enjoy a comfortable standard of living.
$2k people have two strong temptations: resent $5k people and look down on $1k people. Instead of being grateful for God’s gifts the temptation is to compare and envy. This can lead to bitterness: bitter because you don’t live in the neighborhood where the $5k people live. Bitter because you don’t drive the luxury car that the $5k people drive. Bitter because you don’t vacation where $5k people do. Looking down on $1k people is the other side of the same temptation: thinking because you have more, you are better. Both temptations are rooted in pride. God does not measure our worth by our wealth but by our desire to please him.
That is made evident in this parable by the same praise being given to the $2k man as to the $5k man. God says the same thing to the $2k man for his $2k more.
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I think the lesson is that God expects us to do the best we can with the opportunity and ability we have. If the $1k man had doubled his investment, there would have been the very same praise, word by word.
$2k people have the responsibility to make the most of what God gives them. They are to take appropriate risks to please the Lord.
If you are a $2k person you may be thinking “I’ll tell you what’s risky – paying my bills on time and providing for my family in this economy!” I feel your pain because I consider myself to be a $2k man myself, and frankly, my giving is mostly on autopilot. Oh, I tithe but tithing, giving 10% of your income to God, comes easy for me not because I’m so spiritual but simply because I was trained by my parents to give God a tenth of my earnings from the time I knew what a dime was. Literally, my first allowance was ten pennies so I could take one to church and give my tithe! Honestly, I’ve tithed so long that it would feel really weird to me NOT to tithe.
I need challenges like this parable to motivate me to take bigger risks for God. I hope I have the courage to risk enough to please the Lord because when I stand before him, I want to hear him say,
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
In this parable only one person took no risk: The man given $1,000. He buried his $1k in the ground. He did only one thing right: he acknowledged it was his master’s money.
But he made 3 serious mistakes.
- He was fearful. “I was afraid,” he said. He decided to take no risks with his master’s money.
- He was lazy.
“You wicked, lazy servant,” said the master. At least you could have thought to put my money in the bank,” the master said.
He decided to take the easiest solution.
- He was self-pitying.
“I knew you were a hard man.” He decided that it was not his fault if he failed.
So the $1k man was condemned for risking nothing to please his master. “Take the $1k from him, give it to the one who has $10k, and throw the wicked servant outside in the darkness.”
Most of the gospel is compassionate to the poor, but in this parable the poor man is the goat, not the hero. I think Jesus took this radical departure to teach us that no one is exempt from trying to please God.
You may consider yourself a $1k person. Maybe you are elderly, and on a fixed income. Maybe you’re a student. Maybe you’re unemployed. Maybe you have a job but it doesn’t pay enough. Maybe you are poor. This parable teaches that being poor is not an exemption from the need to make the most of what God gives us.
If you’re a $1k person, don’t be intimidated by those who have more. Don’t rationalize that if you can’t give much, you won’t give anything. Take a risk!
Jesus stood at the temple and watched what people were dropping in the plate. A $1k widow came by who was down to her last 2 pennies. She dropped both pennies in the offering plate. Jesus didn’t stop her and say, “Ma’m, you shouldn’t give anything you can’t afford it.” Instead he praised her. He said of her that she gave more than everybody did because she gave all that she had, and the others gave out of their abundance. That is $1k risk!
One little $1k boy brought a lunch of five biscuits and two blue gill. Jesus took that little lunch and multiplied it to feed 5,000 people.
When $1k people give they are an inspiration to others to give generously.
Years ago a church in Philadelphia was overcrowded. A little girl was turned away from Sunday school. She promised to save her pennies to help the Sunday school have more room. Two years later, she died. They found a pocketbook by her bed with 57 pennies and a little scrap of paper with a note saying the money was to help the church build a bigger Sunday school.
The Senior Minister of that church, Dr. Russell Conwell, used that note to make a dramatic appeal to his congregation. People’s hearts were touched. One realtor sold the church a piece of land for 57 pennies.
The local newspaper picked up the story, and it was carried across the country. The pennies grew, and the results can be seen in Philadelphia today. I’ve never been to this church, but it is on my “bucket list” of places I’d like to visit. I’d also like to visit Temple University and Good Samaritan Hospital that came about as a result of that initial effort. I’d like to visit the room at Temple University where that little girl’s picture is on the wall with the reminder of the amazing result of her gift 57 cents.
Never underestimate the value of what you give to God! Taking risks for God doesn’t begin in the pocketbook. It begins in the heart. Open your heart! Take a risk! Give to God as he has prospered you.
$5k, $2k & $1k people all NEED to give! Giving is important because when we give, we remind ourselves that God is in charge. When we give, we enable the Holy Spirit to flow through our lives and fulfill his promise to provide for us. When we give, we contribute to the spread of the Gospel. When we give, God multiplies our gifts and uses it for the building of His kingdom…When we give God says:
“Well done good and faithful servant!”