Our friend, Rodney, from Australia, is a regular contributor to the blog. He wrote a short article and has offered it to us. So, here it is:
There was a certain king who had two adopted sons. They were the children of servants who had been tragically killed in the king’s service, so he had adopted them as his own.
The first appeared to be of quite average intelligence. There was nothing particularly distinguishable about him or his achievements, and he often seemed to lack initiative. He only did what he was asked – no more, and usually no less. He never did anything without first finding out exactly what was expected – how the king wanted it done and what was the expected result. Many people thought he was rather pedantic about following the “rules” and sometimes got rather annoyed with him, but that didn’t seem to bother him. He just kept plodding along, doing what was asked, no more and no less.
The other was a “go-getter”. He was extremely intelligent. He had initiative in spades and energy to burn. He was always on the go, doing things for his adoptive father, seemingly never satisfied that he had done enough to please the king. As for the rules, forget it. The king was old and rather set in his ways, in his opinion. Time had moved on, new ways to achieve results had been devised and the son knew much more about modern life and methods than the king. In other words, he knew best. Oh, sure, he sometimes did what the king asked, but he always did it his own way, and wasn’t afraid to take shortcuts if he thought it would save time or effort. He spent much of his time hanging around with scientists and scholars, discussing the latest developments and working out how he could use his new-found knowledge to his advantage, all in the name of serving the king, of course.
The king, meanwhile, was planning a major project. One that would impact the lives of every subject in the kingdom. He knew that it had to be done exactly right. He knew how it had to be done, and what the consequences would be if it wasn’t done exactly according to plan.
Which of the two sons would he be most likely to choose? The one who “knew best”, who would be likely to do things his own way and disregard the instructions of the king? Or the one who he knew would follow his instructions exactly, regardless of how silly or old-fashioned they seemed, trusting the kings judgment and realizing that the king gave those instructions for a reason, even if that reason wasn’t immediately obvious?
The same applies to the kingdom of God. Jesus told a very interesting parable in Luke 19;
12 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’” (ESV)
In other parables we see that things of value are often associated with God’s torah (e.g. the parable of the lost coin). Let us for a moment apply that principle here. Each of the servants is given the Torah containing the master’s instructions. The first applied it (invested it) and bore fruit, which he presented back to his master at the master’s return. What was the master’s response?
17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ (ESV)
The second servant did likewise, but maybe wasn’t quite so wise in his dealings. He bore less fruit, but fruit nevertheless, which again was presented to the maser. The master’s response was similar.
19 And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ (ESV)
The last servant did nothing with the gift. He kept it wrapped up (perhaps in a book on the shelf?) and gave it back to the master untouched. What was the master’s response to this?
22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow?
24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’
26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (ESV)
This brings to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:
19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (ESV)
One last point needs to be made – the last servant still lived and was still a part of the kingdom, just without the same reward as the others. What happened to those who rejected the master’s rule outright?
27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’” (ESV)
Obedience is not an issue of salvation. Rejecting the master completely is. God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt before He took them to the mountain. He asked them to enter into relationship with him before He gave the teachings and instructions for living (the Torah). Like the two servants of the king mentioned above, your obedience determines your usefulness to the King and directly influences how much you’ll be entrusted with.
In Romans 8 Paul talks about our adoption as sons. Adoption implies responsibility. When a child young and immature, he or she is not expected to know all of the rules of the household and mistakes are expected and understood, although corrected as part of the learning process; however, as the child matures, they’re expected to learn the rules and grow into obedience. The same applies to us. When we are first adopted as sons, we don’t know all the rules. We are expected however to study His Word, to learn to live as members of His household and to grow into obedience to His instructions. This is a process, not something that happens instantaneously. We all mature at different rates – some take longer than others. The important thing though is that we’re willing to learn and accept correction when we get it wrong.
The heart attitude is all important – God cannot use one who is unteachable or unrepentant. How much do we want to learn His ways? How useful do we want to be in His kingdom? How faithful will be be in the little things? How much can we be entrusted with?