Post 7 of the Christians and Money Series framed Man’s economic realities and shared economic baselines. These natural realities and baselines frame money stewardship. Post 8 aims to slaughter two sacred cows used as excuses and reasons to sustain wealth stewardship’s current status quo, which is self-serving.
The Mina parable exposes the 1st sacred cow of social giving as the least favorable of positive outcomes.
The second sacred cow is the holy cow of inheritance.
These 2 sacred cows have a long history and deep backing from society. The evidence of the lofty positions occupied by these 2 sacred cows shows Man’s failure to reciprocate to God’s appeals (see Post 4) to value RELATIONSHIPS (see Post 5 and 6).
The Parable of the Minas
The parable of the Minas in Luke 19:12-27 involves 10 servants, one Master who goes on a long journey, and the third servant was the unfaithful servant. The 4th to 10th servants were not involved in this parable.
Notably, Matthew’s parable of the Talents (Mat25:14-30) parallels the Minas with similarities and significant differences. The comparative study of these two parables yields many diverse and sometimes nonagreeing views. This post has interpreted the Talent’s parable as relevant to the Jews while the Minas applies to the Gentiles. This distinction is partially due to the traditional view that Matthew has a distinct Jewish slant(see link – https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/matthew.html) vs. Luke takes a more gentile flavor (see link- https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/luke.html).
The second reason is the nature of punishment present in Matthew is more aligned with the old covenant terms corresponding to the Jews. In contrast, punishment for the unfaithful servant is absent in Luke’s account of the Minas due to the new covenants “grace” nature.
Luke Minas’ parable offers relevant insights as follows.
- The parable has the context of a master going on a journey and returning.
The Master is Jesus (Scott, pp. 220,1990), who has on a journey (ascended) to a far country (heaven), gave instructions to do business till He returns and returning to hold His servants accountable in His 2nd coming (Mat25:19).
- The parable focus on the faithfulness of the first, two servants
All the servants were given one Mina each and instructed to do business.
The master rewards corresponded to the servants’ business profit. The Master rewarded the one who earned 10 minas with 10 cities and rewarded the servant who earned 5 minas with 5 cities. One Mina is equivalent to 3 months’ wages. (http://www.orthodoxyork.org/the-parable-of-the-talents.html)
- The parable focused on the unfaithfulness of the third servant and the Master’s bottom line.
The unfaithful servant had a negative image of the Master as exacting and harsh but spoke His mind, either foolishly or hypocritically, to make this negative image known to his Master. If this image was correct and this 3rd servant believed it, he would not have neglected his stewardship by placing his Mina in a handkerchief, a picture of neglect and uncaring attitude that did not value the Mina entrusted to him.
The Master forfeited the 3rd servants’ Mina by giving it to the 1st servant, but his punishment went no further. The Master also rebuked the 3rd servant that he could have at the very least placed the money in the bank (a 3rd party) to earn interest rather than keeping it “hidden” in a handkerchief (Luk19:23).
The above supports the following lessons on money stewardship.
- Jesus left instructions for His believers to do business during the period He has ascended to heaven. This business involves
a. Jesus gave each person a mina. In this parable, Mina is 3 months’ wages. For this post’s natural application, this Mina represents a person’s lot in life. This lot consists of a person’s life history gifts, handicaps, opportunities, and threats presented in life circumstances. It is more than just money or wealth.
b. Jesus has expectations that each person acts in faith to use the Mina to do business with the world. This faith is one that expects Jesus’ return that requires accountability on the individual’s part. This faith also requires one to engage actively with the world to multiply that one mina into many minas.
- The reward far exceeds the effort of doing business. 10 minas, which is equivalent to 30 months of wages, is far inferior in value than the reward of 10 cities.
3. Jesus presented God’s bottom line with regards to stewardship
a. Doing nothing (in this case, hiding the Mina in a handkerchief) is not acceptable. The punishment is a rebuke and confiscation of the Mina earlier given. Jesus gave no further penalty. Note the servant was not mentioned together with the slaying of the city’s enemies (Luke19:27).
b. The next best thing to doing nothing, deemed neglecting ones’ stewardship duties, is giving the Mina to a 3rd party to do business on their behalf to earn interest on the Mina. This post interprets this 3rd party as the institutions mentioned earlier- charitable organizations, Churches are the most commonly recognized. These institutions are 3rd parties because the end-user (person in need) most likely remains a stranger to the individual who has given that Mina. The mina owner has not exercised direct love-based Faith in God (1st Commandment) using the Mina to connect relationally (2nd Commandment) with the end-user with sincere love.
This post coined the terms passive stewardship (passing the Mina to a 3rd party to do business with) vs. negligent stewardship (hiding the Mina in a handkerchief)
Passive stewardship is a type of social giving that is impersonal to the end-user and profit-seeking. The profit gained is the appearance of having done business but devoid (similar to the caution in 2Tim3:5) of the risk, uncertainties, and effort arising from the complexities of active relational love with God and Man. That is the self-benefit of placing one’s Mina with the charitable organization or with the organized Church (be it in the form of tithes or offering). Social giving is akin to subcontracting out the 2nd Commandment.
This norm of social giving has gained such momentum that it has become the gold standard to demonstrate love and faithfulness to God and Man. This outcome has effectively supplanted the pure form and substance of the 1st and 2nd Commandments. Love and faith have been socialized and industrialized.
This Christian and Money Series focuses on prioritizing direct giving with the elements of mutual relational faith and sincere love engagement with the person or persons receiving help. However, it does not mean an anti-social giving position is adopted. What it means, a larger proportion needs to be in direct giving as the primary focus, and a relatively smaller balance is in social giving as the secondary focus. The slaughtering of the sacred cow is by prioritizing this focus.
Post 9 will explore guidelines to formulate this proportion according to one’s boundaries and God’s will.
The Sacred Cow of Inheritance
After 7 cycles of 7 years per cycle, where each cycle at the 7th year is a Sabbath year, the 50th year is very significant. This 50th year is called the year of Jubilee. Jubilee marks the land’s return to the original landowners and freedom for any Israelite sold as servants/slaves (Lev25:8-13). God’s resetting land ownership and servant/slave ownership. Although Israel has abandoned this practice since 600BC (see link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jubilee_(biblical)#:~:text=The%20biblical%20rules%20concerning%20Sabbatical,been%20observed%20for%20many%20centuries.&text=Thus%2C%20with%20the%20exile%20of,Jubilee%20has%20not%20been%20applicable.), God has the intention to disrupt the unimpeded accumulation of wealth in the hands of the powerful minority. Doesn’t this intention resonate with the natural application of post 7?
Since Man has a limited life span, earthly wealth accumulation is designated to maximize the inheritance quantum. The desire for inheritance is original with God and also encouraged (Pro13:22). However, this similarity breakdowns beyond this desire. God’s methods to realize this inheritance and what makes this inheritance valuable are at odds with Man’s.
The Christian, thru Jesus Christ, is God’s inheritance (Eph1:18). This inheritance is the relationship of being a son (Rom8:15) to God the Father. Unsurprisingly, this son-Father relationship repurposes the 1st Commandment, taking it from an impersonal level to familial status. For Jesus has fulfilled this Commandment’s demand on man’s behalf, reconciling man with God as Son and Father (2Co5:18).
God the father paid a tremendous personal cost for this reconciliation. This aspect is the first point to raise, which contrasts against man’s means to accumulate earthly inheritance. Man’s inheritance usually exacts the higher cost from others to build their estate. The second point is God values Man directly as His inheritance. Whereas, Man values their relationships using material possessions to express this value.
Considering Jubilee’s year and how God realizes and values His inheritance, the current inheritance goal to maximize quantum is NOT God’s will. This post asserts that inheritance maximization is the will of Mammon.
To fulfill the 2nd Commandment, loving oneself as one’s neighbor, setting aside an equal portion of as inheritance, and use setting aside a similar amount for the self would stand the scrutiny of equitableness. The above illustrates this redistribution of one’s wealth to align with the 2nd Commandment.
Post 9 will explore the difficulties arising from this simplistic division of one’s wealth.
Two stowaway cows detract Man from the wealth stewardship that God desires. These two cows have long gained residential rights and some level of authority over this stewardship. Taking stock of them is a crucial step to keep their jurisdiction at levels that make sense to the stewardship that God desires. Social giving and matters of inheritance are means for Man to realize the love RELATIONSHIPS and not for Man to serve them as Masters.
The clouds in the above visual are beyond Man’s control and experienced as an uncontrolled event.
The anchors are within Man’s sphere of control as they represent his life choices.
The following, based on the above visual, is in-partial control.
- The Shark of worry
- The Mermaid of the temptations of wealth.
- The Cows of social giving and inheritance.
This control is Man’s prerogative to exercise some measure of choice.