STEWARDING THE POUND
by Gary Carpenter
In the parable of the ten pounds we read:
Luke 19:16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
Notice that this first class servant referred to the original pound, the principle, as "thy" pound. The servant had not partaken of the principle entrusted to him, nor the increase gained by trading, for his own purposes.
In line with the teaching, "Distinguishing Provision From Stewardship," this servant had a clear cut distinction in his mind between his own needs being met, and his stewardship of the Lord's pound. He did not mingle the two.
Notice he did not say, "Lord, thy pound has gained ten pounds, less the portion I used to feed my family." No, he understood the difference between dining from the table of grace, and his stewardship of his Masterís pound.
Notice also that this parable also illustrates the statement, "Exaltation regarding your stewardship of finances IS based, 100 percent, on your performance." The servants were exalted in proportion to the effectiveness of their stewardship. The better job they did in stewarding the Lord's money, the greater responsibilities of stewardship they were given. The servant who had gained ten pounds was given authority to govern ten cities:
Luke 19:17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
The servant who had gained five pounds was given authority to govern five cities:
Luke 19:19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
It is imperative to notice that neither of these servants were "making a living" from the "gain" made by trading the original principle. They were not "eating" from this pool of finances. So how were they eating? From the master's table of grace! Exaltation to greater levels of stewardship is based on performance. But performance never prevents a child from the right to dine from his Father's dinner table.
It is interesting that we are given no example in this parable of a servant who traded the original principle and suffered the loss of it. Perhaps such a thought does not enter our Lord's mind, knowing He would send the Holy Spirit to assist these servants during His absence. We are told, however, the single action that will make Him angry concerning our stewardship ... TO DO NOTHING!
The startling thing is, it was not fear of loss that prevented the wicked servant from trading ... it was his attitude of heart. He did not understand what a "first class servant" is. Remember, from Luke 17:7-9, a first class servant is one who always puts the needs of his Master first! In the King James version, the wicked servant's response is recorded this way:
Luke 19:20-21 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
He did not say he was afraid of disappointing the Lord if he lost the principle. No, that attitude, at least to some degree, is in the heart of every servant of the Lord who is called to trade finances in a risky market. Looking at precisely what the wicked servant said, he did not trade the principle because he perceived the Master as being one who "takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow."
That is a little blind to us in the King James version. Although I am not a great fan of the Living Bible, I believe that version gives a little more light on this passage in this instance. In the Living Bible the passage reads:
Luke 19:20-21 "But the third man brought back only the money he had started with. 'I've kept it safe,' he said, 'because I was afraid (you would demand my profits), for you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn't yours and even confiscating the crops that others plant.'
The words, "I was afraid you would demand MY profits" are most telling. This man considered that if he spent his life trading the pound, the gain should belong to him ... not the Master! He most certainly did not have the heart of a first class servant. He was interested in his "own" profits, not in gaining increase for the Masterís use.
Even the wicked servant recognized that the original pound belonged to the Lord. He did not consume it upon himself. The problem was, he was not willing to spend his life in trading the pound to gain increase for his Master unless there was also "profit in it for him." He was a "servant for hire," a "hireling." This is why Jesus said:
Luke 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
When Jesus said for His disciples to say "we are unprofitable servants," He obviously did not mean that they were to think themselves to be of no value to the kingdom. The servants who gained the ten pounds and the five pounds were both "profitable" servants for the kingdom of God. That is why the Master promoted them to greater levels of responsibility.
It was the wicked servant who was only interested in his "own" profit that Jesus Himself labels as being "unprofitable" in his stewardship of Kingdom Finances. In Matthew's account of this parable, Jesus says concerning the wicked servant who did not trade the original principle:
Mat 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Gospel Entrepreneurs, God's Stewards of Kingdom Finances, are to be "profitable" to the Kingdom of God. We are not to be as the wicked servant and consider ourselves to be "for hire." We are unprofitable in the sense of, "I trade the funds entrusted to me in order to obtain increase for my Master's use in the Kingdom of God. I do this because it is my call. I am not doing it for personal profit. I am not doing it as a hireling. I do not expect a commission for my services, neither do I need one, for all of my personal needs are already available to me on the table of my Father's grace."
We must make the distinction between being sons who dine at the family dinner table and our stewardship in the Father's fields. We dine from our Father's table because we are sons of God, by grace alone. We have no need to partake of the gain gathered by our stewardship in the fields.
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