In the 1920s, many Americans left their low-paying factory jobs in the Northeast for a chance of a fortune through farming in the Midwest. At first, things were looking up. But in 1931, everything changed.
Oklahoma went through the worst drought in recorded history. To make matters worse, years of irresponsible farming techniques had destroyed the prairie grasses that preserved ground moisture, which resulted in massive dust storms. Entire fortunes disappeared in billowing, dull gray plumes of dust.
Year by year, at planting time, these farmers faced an excruciating choice—use their last remaining wheat seed to feed their families for a few months (while they sold off their farms and moved back East)—or plant those seeds and hope for rain. Many gave up and headed east. Others planted in hopes that rain would come.
In the fall of 1939, it did.
Harvesting always involves risk. Because when you sow something, you release control over it. And if the harvest doesn’t come, you lose it. This is what Jesus is talking about when he tells the parable of the minas in Luke 19.
(In case you don’t remember the story, here’s a digest: A rich man left for a long journey, giving a big chunk of money—a “mina”—to ten servants with the instructions, “Use this to make more money while I’m gone.” Some servants used their mina to make a lot more—and were commended for it. But one buried his mina in the ground, returning only what he was given—and receiving a scathing rebuke.)
I see three key lessons we can learn from this parable:
1. All we need to accomplish our mission is already in our hands.
The servants in the parable didn’t have to ask the master for resources. He’d already given them all they needed. I think that’s true of the church today, too. Just imagine with me: What if everything necessary for your church to reach your community this year is already in your hands? What would change about your confidence to reach people with the gospel?
The most important question you could ever ask is, Why did God give me what he gave me?
2. Each of us will be judged on how we use what was entrusted to us.
The word “steward” is often used when it comes to resources. It’s a great word for the servants in this story. A steward is not the owner of something; a steward merely manages it on behalf of the owner. If you give your money to a financial investor, for instance, that’s not their money to use however they want. That’s your money that they manage for you—they’re the steward. The most important question they can ask is, “What do you want done with this money?”
Which is precisely the question we all need to ask God.
3. The most important question you could ever ask is, Why did God give me what he gave me?
That house? Not yours. That car? Not yours. Those talents? Not yours. That bank account? Not yours. Many of us have fallen into the trap of thinking like owners—and because we think like that, we’re resistant, even resentful, when God compels us to give. We think, Who is God to demand some of my money? But the reality is, it’s all his to begin with.
He’s given you the “minas” of your time, treasure, and talents that you need to get your job done. Have you asked him what their purpose is?
Whatever it is, he wants you to double it for the kingdom. He’s given you salvation. Double it: Make a disciple. He’s made you a small group leader. Double it: Plant a new one. He’s given you Bible knowledge. Double it: Teach what you know. He’s given you money. Double it: Invest it in what God is doing near you and around the world.
There’s only one thing you can’t do in heaven that you can do right now—invest your minas in bringing people to Jesus. Everyone needs a chance to hear. So take your minas and double them for your Master in heaven.