Throughout his ministry, Jesus corrected kingdom misconceptions. His disciples failed to understand that some things must happen in order to secure the kingdom. A part of what must happen is that the citizens of the kingdom must work to see it come.
As he approached Jerusalem, he discerned that his disciples were anticipating the imminent arrival of the kingdom. They did not understand that he must first experience the agony of the cross. They did not understand that there would be a delay, during which they would be called to faithfully preach the message of the kingdom. Jesus told the parable of the minas to correct their faulty expectation.
The parable concerned a nobleman (representing Jesus) travelling to a far country to receive a kingdom. The nobleman gave to each of his servants a mina, instructing them to invest it wisely while he was away. When he returned, each servant reported to him. Some servants had faithfully invested their mina and were commended for it. One had hidden it away so that it had attracted no interest and was rebuked. Still others had completely rejected the master and were killed for their insubordination.
Though similar in some respects, this parable differs from the parable if the talents (Matthew 25:14–30) in at least one striking regard: Each servant was given only a single mina. In the parable of the talents, different servants were given different amounts and expected to trade with them. If the focus of the talents is giftedness, the focus of the minas is faithfulness. Each servant was given the same gift and expected to put it to work. The increase was irrelevant: The nobleman was as pleased with the ten mina increase as with the five mina increase. The question was whether the servants would faithfully put to work what was given to them.
The point is simply this: Each citizen of the kingdom is given the same responsibility. We are to put the gospel to work as we await Christ’s return. At the final judgement, we will each give account for how we invested the gospel for the sake of the kingdom. Some will have greater opportunity for investment than others, and it does us no good to compare ourselves to others. We must ask only whether we are being faithful with the gospel as God gives us opportunity.
John Blanchard, who visited our church on several occasions, and whose Ultimate Questions has proved an invaluable tool for many in the church, died last Friday. Blanchard ministered across the world and wrote dozens of books to help equip the church in kingdom work. Few, if any, of us will have such worldwide ministry. But every Christian has been given the gospel and is responsible, before God, to put it to work.
What does it look like to put the gospel to work? Most immediately, we might think of the responsibility to share our faith with others. This is certainly an important aspect of putting the gospel to work. We should always be looking for opportunities to share with others the good news of what God has done for believing sinners in Jesus Christ. But there are other ways to invest the gospel to produce spiritual capital. Philip Ryken suggests a few ways.
We can invest the gospel in our own spiritual growth. The gospel has implications for prayer, repentance, and dependence in our lives for our spiritual growth. This is kingdom work and we should put the gospel to work personally.
We can invest gospel capital in the way in which we serve others. As Jesus came to serve, so we can invest in the lives of others in such a way that the gospel is put to work.
We can invest gospel capital in Great Commission work. We can do this by willingness to go as missionaries or a commitment to support missionaries prayerfully and financially, thereby securing further gospel capital.
In our daily lives, we can live under the lordship of Jesus Christ in our everyday vocations in such a way that the gospel is upheld. If we work to the best of our ability, with the goal of bringing glory to God, the gospel is put to work.
As you reflect on the parable of the minas this morning, ask yourself, am I doing all I can to fruitfully invest gospel capital to the best of my ability? The King will return once he has fully received his kingdom and we will give an account for how we have invested what he has given to us. Will you receive commendation or rebuke?