“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.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’’”
Is the Lord Really the King of the Righteous?
As we pass the last hours of the year, we should not do so in profusion, but we must really calculate how much we were able to accomplish the work that was entrusted to us and greet the New Year with new resolution. If we check the grade for our spiritual life during the past year, we can give ourselves good marks in some tasks but not in some other tasks, and I want this hour to be a time of contemplating about our own duties through today’s Word.
Through today’s Scripture passage, the Lord said that a certain nobleman had to go to a country far away to receive for himself a kingdom. That nobleman, the master, counted 10 minas and gave one mina to each of his ten servants. The master told the servants to do business diligently with that money as a startup capital. All the servants obeyed the master, but one servant did not. It seems that the servant had decided to disobey the direction of the Lord from the outset. He probably did not even want his master to become a king. He might advocate the disloyalty of his master’s citizens who hated the master, and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”
However, the king eventually came back after receiving the kingdom. The master who came back from the journey wanted to check how the servants had run the business with one mina he gave to each servant. At that time, a certain servant increased it by ten fold and another increased it by five fold and brought them to the master. And the master praised them for being faithful to the smallest task. And the master gave to each of them the authority to rule over ten villages and five villages respectively. The master wanted to test the servants with small matter and see how they were faithful with it in order to find out whether they were worthy to be entrusted with bigger responsibility.
However, the servant who disobeyed the master from the beginning just brought one mina that he received from the master. What does such behavior imply? It portrays the heart that says, “I do not recognize you as the king. Your request is unreasonable. You give one mina and expect me to increase it. That is nonsense.” The unfaithful servant criticized the master, “You are a person who collects from the place you have not stored and harvest from the place you have not sown.” Then, the master proclaimed him an evil servant and rebuked him for disobeying his words. The master rebuked him and said that he should have at least deposited the money in the bank and gotten interest if he intended to follow the master’s will at all.
That servant did not want to do anything for the master because he originally did not want the master becoming the king. So, what happened? Eventually, the master took that money from the disobedient servant and gave it to the servant who increased his share by ten fold. In addition, the master commanded them to kill that evil servant who even interfered with him becoming the king.
Through the record here, we could realize that God sees how we are faithful to even the smallest thing for Him. God is saying that a person who has the desire to serve God as his King would be faithful to even the smallest thing that He commands. We must understand the will of God. We must understand that this Word of the parable is spoken to none other than you and me today.
Our Lord is the Savior who came to this world and blotted out all our sins, make us receive salvation, and give us the Holy Spirit in our hearts. And He is the Lord who gives various precious gifts of faith to each one of us so that we could fulfill the Lord’s work. The Lord gave us the power to serve the gospel and do His work. The Lord gives us all such things and just expects one thing from us: He wants us to expand the Kingdom of God by evangelism according to the gifts that we have received from Him. It is akin to doing business and increasing the money.
As the master returned after receiving the kingdom and rewarded the result that his servants achieved with all their faithful hard work in today’s Scripture passage, the Lord will ask us when He comes back, “Have you done business well? Have you followed Me with faith and done My work faithfully?” When the Lord asks us like that, certain brothers and sisters will say happily and confidently, “Lord, look. I have reaped ten from the one gift that you have given to me.” And certain saints will bring to Him five that they have reaped.
However, the people who have stood against the Lord like the servant who did not acknowledge the master as the king would not be able to do anything but shamefully bring Him the one mina that they had received as it is. The difference between a person who just brings one mina that God entrusted to him without doing anything with it and those who bring their money after increasing it five fold or ten fold is not small at all. What is the lesson of today’s passage? The size of the gift that God gives is the same for everyone, but there is a big difference in the fruits of that faith depending on whether one has the heart to truly worship God as his King or not.
The different result each servant who received the command of the master reaped depended on whether one served the master as the king or not. The person who increased the money ten fold and the person who increased it five fold truly served their master as their king. It means that they acknowledged the master as their king and the ruler who leaded them and had authority over everything. For such faithful servants, the amount of money the master has entrusted them is not important, whether it is one mina or 100 minas. Because that money is the king’s money, and because the king gave him the command to do business with the money, he is absolutely faithful to the command only. It is not that he is more faithful when the master entrusts him with one hundred minas and less faithful when he is entrusted with one mina. Instead, he follows the will of the king with all his heart because it is the king’s command. On the contrary, in the case of the servant who absolutely does not acknowledge the master as his king, he cannot help but be unfaithful regardless of how much money the master entrusts to him. It is because such an evil servant only thinks why he should increase the money and bring profit for the master only, and only calculates that the return for himself is too little. However, God not only saved us from sins, but also gave us abilities to fulfill His work. It means that God gave us the abilities to do God’s work, the faith of obedience, faith of devotion, and faith that grows properly in the Church.
The corresponding Word in the Gospel of Matthew refers to mina in this passage as talent. Talent means ability. There are many different talents like the talent to give glory to God through praises, talent to care for children with education and admonishment, talent to take care of other believers with understanding and volunteer work, talent of financial ability and talent to accumulate wealth, and talent to serve the Church.
God did not only allow us the grace of salvation, but also gave us many ‘abilities’ like these to serve the Lord as we live in this world. God gave us the wisdom to understand the Word properly and the talent to deliver the true faith boldly. The master gave all the servants one mina, that is, one talent, in today’s Scripture passage. This means that the Lord gave the fullness of the Holy Spirit to us all who believe in Him. That the master gave one mina to each and every servant means that the Lord basically and equally gave the Holy Spirit to each and every believer. That is because the saints who have received the Holy Spirit have received the abilities to do God’s work with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Then, what is the reason why the servants reaped different results when the Lord distributed the gifts fairly like this? That was the result of whether the servants had the heart of acknowledging and serving the master as their king or not. While the master went to a far country to receive the kingdom, certain servants followed the direction of the master with all their faithfulness, but the servant who did not want to serve the master as his king did not do any work for the master.
Eventually, when the master came back as the king, the fate of the two kinds of servants went separate paths. If one actually considers it as the command of the one he serves as the king and if he regards it as his master’s work, then the will and the attitude of the servant who is entrusted with it cannot but be different. It means that the command of the king becomes an absolute command and the word the king has spoken becomes the goal of his life. Therefore, the person who sets the word of the king and the thinking of the king as his goal and is totally faithful to that goal is the attitude of the person who acknowledges and serves the king.
It is the same in our spiritual life. We must look into ourselves and see whether we truly believe and serve the Lord as the King. He is the Lord who saved us and the Lord who became our King. God is the Lord who created the universe and everything in it, including you and me, and the Lord who gave eternal life to you and me. When you and I fell into sin and we were facing destruction, God who is our Master came, saved us from sins, and gave us new life.
The Lord became our master like that, delivered us from death, and gave us new life. Moreover, the Lord is the master who leads us with much blessing that we can be thankful for. As in the relationship between a king and his subject, which the king does not owe to the subject, but the subjects owe to the king, we also live owing to the Lord. The subjects can live because the king gives the authority and material things, and the subjects do not live with something they can put up for themselves, right? God, our King, has allowed us the air, warm sunlight, crops and all the things of the world, and proper environment that benefit our life. That is why we can go on living. When we come to realize that God has allowed everything we enjoy like this, then we cannot but confess God as our King. Would we be born from our mother’s womb by ourselves, without God? Furthermore, after we have been born from our mother’s womb, have we made the air by ourselves, breathed it, made the sun, and received the sunshine? Did we make the other natural environment? All the blessings of the nature have been given to us by the grace of God who is our King. We humans just made our own trivial cultures to live a little more comfortably. However, God, our King, is also the Lord who gives the resources themselves to build the cultures of human beings. Truly, among the things we need to live, there isn’t anything we have not received from God.
All humankind can only live with all things they receive from God. Even our thinking and wisdom, our health and faith also, could not be ours if we did not receive the remission of sins. You have received everything from the Lord ─ even the Holy Spirit in you, your life itself, and even all the plan and guarantee of happiness of your future. We must always remember that there isn’t anything we have not received from the Lord.
Then, What Attitude of the Heart Must We Have to Serve God as the King?
The behavior that appears outwardly differs from one extreme to another depending on whether we worship God as the King wholeheartedly or not. In today’s Scripture passage, the evil servant who did not serve the master as the king thought the command of the master was unjust. He though the master was certainly a robber and indecent person. He thought it was so unfair for the master to entrust one mina and expect to have five or ten fold returns. That servant did not even think of serving the master as his king and did not even have the heart to be faithful to the master because he did not believe in the master. He just thought the command that the master gave to him was unjust, and did not have faith in the reward and compensation the king would give him when he fulfilled that responsibility.
However, what consequently happened? When the other servants truly believed in the master who entrusted the work to them, regardless of how small the work was, and worked faithfully with all their efforts, the master bestowed on them great blessing and reward, didn’t he?
Among the things we enjoy, there isn’t anything we have not received from God. Even the relationship between a parent and a child was allowed by God, wasn’t it? Moreover, the brothers and sisters, the Church and the ministries in the Church, God’s work, the love in Christ, and all other things are given to us from the Lord. When we acknowledge and serve God as our King, then, we cannot but confess that all the thankful things that we enjoy like this are from God.
We Are Inadequate People
Regardless of the fact that we have been born again by believing in Jesus, we cannot be perfect as long as we are human beings. Even though we always want to do well, we make mistakes from time to time because human beings are weak beings. Human behaviors cannot but be imperfect. If human behavior could be perfect somehow, then there would not be any conflict between people, and people would not suffer from difficulties. However, in contrast to human behaviors, the faith of believing with our hearts can be perfect and complete. Therefore, the Lord looks at our hearts, not our works. If we always leave the space in our heart empty for the King and concentrate our attention on the will and the glory of the Lord only, then such heart can be accepted as perfect before the presence of the Lord. Anyone who has been born again and wants to serve the Lord inside him can have such heart.
We are all people who have such qualifications and people who can live like that. Even though our behaviors cannot be 100% satisfactory because our flesh is weak, anyone can receive the talent from the Holy Spirit and receive the blessing by doing God’s ministry with that talent if he just accepts God in his heart instead of thinking the Lord who saved you and me is the strict and awkward God and keeping distance from Him with fear. However, if someone just becomes weary of God’s work and feels that God expects too much and only complains, then such person cannot serve God as the King and hate to do any kind of work for Him.
God owns everything in this world. God willingly gives all such things to us, so we can receive them all in the Lord, enjoy them, and serve the Lord with thankfulness. We serve the Lord with the Lord’s own and we eat, drink, and go on living with the Lord’s possessions. We give glory to the Lord and we do God’s work with His belongings, and we also share them with our neighbors.
God truly is our Creator and the King. The Lord becomes our King, the King for you and me, when we believe that the Lord has saved us. We just cannot serve Him as the King properly and treat Him as the King perfectly only because our faith is lacking. The Lord becomes our King when we invite the Lord in our hearts wholly. Jesus Christ is the King for us who has received the remission of sins. You and I must definitely believe this fact. The Lord who is our King is the Christ and the Son of the living God. We are not able to serve Him 100% perfectly, but nonetheless, the Lord is our King.
However, when we start to live the spiritual life with the heart that says, “I am so tired and frustrated with unreasonable demands of serving You every day. I have offered so much to You, but You ask me to give myself to you continuously, and I cannot do that anymore” as we serve the Lord, then the Lord no longer wants to be our King. We must therefore believe that the more devoted we are and the more we do the Lord’s work, the more blessing and reward the Lord will give to us. If we do not have such faith, the Lord no longer remains our King and does not give us the blessing any more.
If we face God with the shaky faith and fleshly thinking instead of the eyes of faith, then God may some day look like a tyrant to us. However, as the master entrusted one mina to each and every servant, we must understand that if we think preciously of the little talent that is given to us and be faithful to Him, then everything turns to grace and thankfulness. We live in this world with the talent that God has entrusted to us.
That talent is not a responsibility. It is not a burden that we must bear laboriously. That talent is the seed of faith that leads us to the heavenly blessings. Everything is a gift that the Lord has given to us. When we look carefully at the things that are given to us, there isn’t anything that the Lord did not give. The Lord even gave us our life and we would just become a handful of dust if the Lord took that life.
In today’s Scripture passage, the reason why certain servants that received one mina reaped much and certain others did not is not any other reason than the difference of whether one has served the master as the king wholeheartedly and obeyed the master absolutely or not. The servant who reaped five, the servant who reaped ten, and the one who reaped nothing have each reaped such fruit by using their respective ability. As we receive salvation by faith as small as a mustard seed, the result of the work we do with our abilities can be different like that depending on the size of our faith. However, the evil servant that brought one mina intact received the unfortunate consequence eventually because he did not do any work and he did not serve God as the King.
The Heart That Does Not Want Jesus as His King Must Repent
This year is passing by, and as I have said in the beginning, we must not just pass this year meaninglessly, but, we must instead evaluate our faith according to how great or little fruit we have reaped. In addition, I really want you to invite God as your true King in the coming year. Even if we served Him as the King, we could reap little fruit and not do much of the work He has entrusted to us because of our lacking. However, I believe God will fill up our lacking if we just invite God as the King in our hearts. God really chose you and me among many people that number more than the sand pebbles, saved us, and gave us this gospel of the Truth. God caused us to receive salvation by hearing and believing the gospel of the Truth.
The Holy Spirit is in our hearts. It is obvious that God is leading us even though we go astray sometimes because we do not follow the Word of the Holy Spirit faithfully. Do you have the Holy Spirit, or do you not? You are touched when you listen to the Word because you have the Holy Spirit. You would not be able to sit here if you did not have the Holy Spirit because a person who does not have the Holy Spirit cannot receive blessing from the words of the preacher and it would not touch his heart. We who have received the remission of sins must believe the Lord and believe the fact that the Lord has saved us by receiving the baptism, dying on the Cross, and being resurrected from death. And we should always give thanks to God as we live in this world.
The Lord looks at our hearts, and He does not look at the splendor of our outward appearance. The Lord asks whether we serve Him as the King wholeheartedly or not, and judges us based on that criterion. In the Word from today’s passage, the master praised all the servants who increased the money by doing business. It is because they were all faithful servants who acknowledged the master as the king even though there were some differences in the results they reaped. We cannot have any other thing or any other person as our King. The material things or human wisdom, fleshly pleasures or honor of the world cannot be our King. We must acknowledge and only serve our Lord as the King.
In today’s Scripture Word, among many things, the part that we need to see with special attention is the part about the pitiful end of the person who did not want the master to become the king. That evil servant eventually suffered terrible death in the end. That he just held onto one mina unfaithfully and brought to the master exactly one mina is one reason, but, basically, it’s probably because he interfered with the master becoming the king because he did not want the master to become the king. That servant said, “For I feared you, because you are an austere man.”
God is not a narrow-minded tyrant. The Lord is the Shepherd of love and the almighty God who caresses our situation and our wounds. He is definitely not the Lord who oppresses us even though He is mighty, and He is the Lord who leads us to the water of life and to a peaceful pasture. He is the good God who causes us to become well-off and able to receive the blessing.
Refusing to serve God as the King is, therefore, the most evil attitude. If there is by chance anyone who has such heart, then he must turn back. We must actively serve God as our King. If you believe that you have received the remission of sins and that you are a precious person, and if you believe that you are a child of God, then you cannot but confess Jesus Christ is the true King and serve Him. The people who do not believe and accept this fact yet must truly serve the Lord as the King from now on. We cannot but be treated like the evil servant if we do not serve the Lord as the King. It means that we will be put in a shameful situation of bringing only one mina if we do not serve the Lord as the King and go against Him and do not do any work for Him. Even though you have received the remission of sins, you lose everything shamefully in the end if you do not accept the fact that Jesus Christ is your King. Consequently, you will be destroyed.
This year is now passing by, and next year is coming around the corner, and the year after next year will also come soon. But, I want you know that the passing of times does not repeat itself forever and that there will definitely come a time of judgment some day. We must invite Jesus Christ as the true King in our hearts at this very moment to prepare for that day. We must make the decision fast. Jesus Christ truly is our King. Jesus Christ is the Lord who gives everything to you and me. What would be the reason you would not receive the Lord as the King in your heart? What would be the reason to refuse serving the Lord as the King? Only our Lord is our true King.
If we acknowledge the Lord as the King, I believe that the Lord will definitely bestow on us all the authority and blessing that the master in today’s Word allowed to his servants. Do you believe? If we just acknowledge the Lord as the King, then the Lord who is our King will give us the power, the Church, a spouse, works to do, and all things even though we are somewhat foolish and lacking. The Lord is not a tyrant, but a good and wise King.
That the master gave one mina to each and every servant means that the Lord gave the grace of salvation to all in same manner. However, the evil servant who does not acknowledge the Lord as the King cannot but perish in the end. I know that there is no one among us who does not want to serve the Lord as the King. I believe there is no saint who would bring just one talent that he has received before the presence of God because he does not want to do any work for Him. There isn’t any evil servant among us. If you all are people who come to Church, follow God’s Word, desire always to serve the Lord who is our King even though you are lacking, and confess the Lord as the Christ in your heart, then there is no saint who would end up with such unfortunate result that the evil servant faced. Our confession is always, as the Apostle Peter did, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
We believe in God who is the Savior, the King, the Creator, and the Lord who gives us everything. Who has such faith? Do you believe like that? The Lord gave such faith to you and me. He definitely gave all things and we have received them. Who else but God would give us the air, give us the good environment, give us peace in our hearts, blot out our sins, and give us food. Only the Lord gives all such things to us. We are just thankful to the Lord.
Even though we are all people who acknowledge that the Lord has become our King, there must have been many shortcomings of ours last year. And we cannot say that we will not have any shortcomings in the future as well. The Scriptures said, “Do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath,” and, therefore, we cannot take oath carelessly. And we would not be able to do everything well in the future, too. It means that there is no such guarantee.
However, one thing that we can confess confidently is that only the Lord is the King and God who has saved us. I believe the Lord knows everything about our situation and definitely helps us if we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our King like this. In addition, I believe the Lord will give you the strength to serve the Lord faithfully, bless you, and fulfill everything for you. He will definitely do as such. The Scriptures said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Who is the Lord that tells us like this and fulfills everything like this? Who is the Lord that works like that whenever we seek and ask? He is none other than Jesus Christ.
Therefore, we must serve and acknowledge the Lord in our hearts. Even though we acknowledge Him as the King in our hearts, there are times when our actions do not coincide with our hearts. Even so, the Lord nurtures us and leads us if we just serve the Lord in the center of our hearts. I pray that the Lord will give you all the faith and precious talent to serve Him firmly as the King. I pray that the Lord will give you all such environment, material things, and all the blessings for you to give thanks and be faithful to the Lord. I believe God knows our heart and that He will give all things like that.
As we look into our hearts at the time of looking back at this past year, we must confess that we were not perfect in serving and worshipping the Lord as our King. Let’s confess again with new hearts and acknowledge the Lord as the King once again. As we pass another year like this, let’s have such time and resolve in our heart to serve the Lord as the King even more faithfully even though we are lacking. I want you to believe the Lord’s guidance in the coming year too, believe in the Lord’s help, and confess the Lord as the eternal King as you live for the Lord in the coming year, too.
I believe we will be able to return glory to the Lord through such resolve. Even though we have not reaped ten talents, I believe we will become people who are faithful to even the smallest things and devote ourselves to reap even more fruit in the coming year and receive much authority and blessing of the Kingdom of Heaven. I give glory and praise to the Lord who has allowed such a heart and such time to us.