Economics for Faithful Stewards – Money and Possessions

Mat.25:14-30:
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them…” (v.14)

The Christian person must understand, that all we have: our time, money and possessions are a trust from God. God’s requirement of us is accountability. In this parable that Jesus tells, the expectation of the master was clearly increase. The two servants whose dealings with their master’s talents yielded profit, (in their case, 100%) were described as being “good and faithful.”  Furthermore, the ability of the servants to trade successfully with what was their master’s talent, not only led to his commendation, but greater responsibility, authority and blessing. From God’s perspective, growth is desired; growth is good.

The parable in part, reiterates a principle found in Psalm 67:6-7(KJV): “Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.”

Everybody likes blessing. Esau wanted his father’s blessing (Heb.12:16-17), but the unregenerate mind, like Esau, fails to understand that blessing is a time-related consequence of godly behaviour. It is neither an accident, nor automatic. The only time Esau seemed concerned about his birthright, was when he had lost it. (Gen.27:38) The notion of sowing and reaping is part of the warp and woof of human experience under God. Jacob understood this, and benefitted, through honouring and obeying his parents (Gen.27:13,14; 28:5-7). Esau, having despised his birthright years earlier, was surprised that as the first-born, he would not automatically inherit his father’s blessing.

This teaches us that “economic growth is the product of covenant-conforming human action: thrift, honest dealing, hard work, future orientation, care for one’s calling (vocation) etc…there are no long-term fruits without Biblical roots.” 1

Another aspect of the parable that must be understood is risk. Risk is everywhere, but the enterprising and entreprenurial Christian person, while understanding this, seeks to moderate and justify his risk-taking by the gathering and utilisation of knowledge and understanding. He avoids, “jumping in the deep-end,” in hasty pursuit of a quick profit, but disciplines himself to gain the necessary knowledge, understanding and experience. These are not mentioned in the passage, but much of scripture refers to them as being fundamental to wise and productive living. The Book of Proverbs deals extensively with this subject. eg “The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge,” (Prov.18:15) and “I, wisdom dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion.” (Prov.8:12)

God expects profit from His people; not loss. In fact, he clearly expects from us much more, than that we merely return to him what was given to us. The unproductive and indolent servant in the parable is classified as being “worthless” (v.30), “wicked” and “lazy” (v.26) . He confessed that “I was afraid…” (v.25) The fact that he refused to even  put the money in the bank for the sake of interest, singled him out for the master’s wrath.

Life has risks. We dash our feet against stones. We slip and fall. Because of sin, we suffer the negative sanctions of pain and failure. We suffer death. In this sense, we live a high-risk existence. Men want to lower their risks. This is legitimate, in the same sense that seeking to lower any of our costs is legitimate. But to seek risk-free living is to seek slavery and death. It is comparable to seeking cost-free living. Such a quest is demonic in history: the overcoming of sin's curse without overcoming sin. 2

Our risk-taking in God’s eyes is therefore understandable and necessary, within the boundaries of appropriate knowledge and understanding. Perfect knowledge and understanding for men, is a mirage. Nonetheless, we should be always seeking as diligent, faithful servants, to expand the knowledge and understanding we do have, to improve our levels of accountability to our Lord and Master.

“Profit is therefore a residual accruing to those who deal on a day-to-day basis with the inescapable uncertainties of the future.” 3

Conclusion:

The two faithful servants in this parable “traded.”  They understood that their master was a shrewd capitalist, and so they were. They were entreprenurial and accountable. Their master approved of their trading activities, considering them to be “good and faithful,” and put them in charge of many things. This parable teaches us of our accountability to God in all things, but particularly in relation to our money and possessions. God expects us to be profitable servants with the resources He commits to us, with a view to receiving His commendation, and greater responsibilities from His hand.

Are you doing all that is in your power to show diligence and responsibility with the assets God has entrusted to you? If you do, you can expect to receive more from Him.

1) North, G., The Dominion Covenant, 1987, p.129.
2) North, G., Priorities and Dominion, 2000, Chapter 2.
3) North, G., The Dominion Covenant, 1987, p.220.

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