Recently, in a Sunday School class I was teaching, we were going through the parable of the minas in Luke 19:11-27. In the parable there are three servants of the Lord that give an account of how they served Him while they waited for His return.
It is clear that all three servants are believers. It is also clear that each receives a different level of rewards based upon how faithfully they served the Lord. One receives 10 cities in the Kingdom of God. The second receives five cities. The third receives no cities to rule over.
While the general thrust of the parable is clear enough, the class was really interested in a part of the parable that is not as clear. When the third servant, the one who receives no cities, stands before the Lord, he says something that is rather strange. He was a believer, and he knew that the Lord was coming back, but when asked what he did with his mina (which represents the opportunity to serve the Lord in His absence), he says, “For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow” (Luke 19:21).
This believer says that he did not work for the coming Kingdom and did not do what his Lord told him to do. That is clear enough. However, the reason he gives is somewhat surprising. He says he did not serve the Lord because He feared his Lord.
As somebody pointed out in the class, isn’t fearing the Lord a good thing? Shouldn’t the believer have a “reverent awe” of the Lord? Shouldn’t the believer has a healthy fear of what the Lord will say to him on the day he stands before Him? Shouldn’t that fear motivate him to serve the Lord?
But here is a guy that fears the Lord and does nothing! If he feared Him, why didn’t he do something? He knew that one day he would stand before the One he feared. Instead of motivating him to do something, this “fear” had the exact opposite impact on his life.
This did not make sense to the class. In our discussion, these are some of the conclusion we came up with. Perhaps those reading the blog can add to our discussion.
The first thing that stands out is that this servant had the wrong view of the Lord. He sees Him as a man that is ungracious. But we see in the parable that He is a gracious Lord. The second servant does not serve Him nearly as well as the first, but the second is given five cities to rule over.
Also implied in the words of the third servant is the idea that the Lord, as an ungracious Lord, is not personally interested in the success of the servants. The Lord is only concerned about what He can reap. He is not concerned about the rewards of His servants.
But the reaction to both the first and second servants show that this is not the case. He graciously gives both of them much more responsibilities than what they had originally received in the “little” the Lord had given them (v. 17).
This mistaken view of the third servant caused him to conclude it was not worth the effort to serve such a Master. It was better to simply return what he had been given. The Master was not worthy of serving.
In applying this particular part of the parable, we are reminded of what the author of Hebrews says in Heb 11:6. The one who wants to please God must believe that He is a God who rewards those who diligently seek Him. The third servant did not believe that. Perhaps we see this in the attitude of many Christians today. They reject the idea of rewards. They often say that if there are rewards, they don’t want any. Perhaps they even convince themselves that if there are rewards the Master would never given them such blessings. That is only for more important believers.
It seems that one of the points of the parable is that Christ is a gracious Lord who wants to reward us. If we are faithful in serving Him, He will give us those rewards. That is the kind of Lord we have.