Profit

As Zaccheus happily went to divest himself of his tainted wealth, the subject of profit and loss came into focus.
As Jesus neared Jerusalem, interest grew in the nature of His coming Kingdom. If money was earned only to be given away, what kind of economy would that be? To illustrate, Jesus told the parable of the talents, called “minas” in the version of scripture we are using—this was a sizable sum of money measured by weight in silver or gold.

The Parable (Part One—“Profit”)
A “certain nobleman” travelled to a distant county for a promotion to the throne of that land. The man was wealthy, holding many opportunities for profit as well as many dangers of loss. Certain servants were summoned before him and given significant sums of money to invest in his name and toward his purposes.

However, the nobleman was not loved by all his people. Something in his organization inspired hostility in some of his people. The rebellious sect actually sent a delegation to the nobleman making their intentions clear—they did not consider him their leader.

When the time came for the return of the nobleman, now the king of a distant land, it was a time of reckoning. The loyal servants reported profits and were promised reward. We will pause in the parable until to tomorrow when we will deal with losses; today’s subject is profit.

“Talents?” a Flexible Term
The KJV used the word “talent” to refer to the sum of money given each servant. This has invited personal and even artistic interpretations.

  • The term, “hidden talents,” has become proverbial in warnings to individuals not to waste the abilities God has given them.
  • For creatives, the term is more specific: “Do not bury your skill!” If you can sing or act or write or paint or dance or whatever art God has given you the ability to learn to do, get busy!

These things are proper applications of the story even if based on a sort of a pun of the English language.

Profits in the Kingdom of God
Whether money, artistic ability, or personal giftedness, the point is well-taken—when God gives, He expects a return on His investment.

  • We must be careful not to confuse these profits with eternal salvation. This is always and only a free gift of grace granted the believer by repentance and confession of Christ. It is the gift of God and could never be earned by any works we could ever do.
  • However, once we are in this Kingdom of Grace, there is much work to be done.
    The Bible is exceedingly clear on this! From the Sermon on the Mount to this parable to the letters of the Apostles to the church, the admonitions are many and explicit—we each have a calling, an anointing, a life’s work which the Lord Himself has given us to do.

If He has given us much, much will be required of us! Meanwhile, we do this work faithfully in the power of the Spirit—a mysterious and joyful combination of human effort and divine blessing. Paul called the Spirit a treasure and he called us the earthen vessel containing the treasure. Why? So that we would know that the power to do the work was of God and not of us. We are His handiwork, created to do good works which God has laid out for us to do since before time began!

Talents? To be sure! Treasure? To be even more sure! Profits? If we are faithful to “do the work!”

Scriptures:
Luke: 19:11-1
9 NKJV
Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’ “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’
Matthew 5:16 NKJV
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Luke 12:48 NKJV
For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.
2 Corinthians 4:7 NKJV
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your grace in my life is so powerful and so multi-faceted. I cannot count Your blessings but I want to see that You receive a profit on every one of them! You have shown me mercy so I will be merciful to others. You have showered me with grace so I will be gracious to others. You have blessed be with talents and the opportunity to develop those talents into skills. I will do the work! I will walk this pathway of blessing and opportunity You have laid out for me, taking all the steps this blessed day requires. All for Your glory, Lord!

Song:
Give of Your Best to the Master

Words: Howard B. Grose; Music: Charlotte Alington (Claribel)

1. Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Throw your soul’s fresh, glowing ardor
Into the battle for truth.
Jesus has set the example,
Dauntless was He, young and brave;
Give Him your loyal devotion;
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain:
Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
Join in the battle for truth.

2. Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave;
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain

3. Give of your best to the Master;
Naught else is worthy His love;
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin’s ruin to save;
Give Him your heart’s adoration;
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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