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We have seen in the Parable of the Talents that as the servant entrusted with the least of his Master’s goods was culpable for doing nothing with what had been entrusted to him, much more will those be held accountable who are entrusted with the most and do nothing with it.  This was exactly the case with the judgment that was about to overtake the unbelieving Jews, and why Jesus is warning His own disciples here in the Olivet Discourse to be alert and keep watch lest the same judgment overtake them; cf. Luk 12:48b, Heb 2:1-3.  We have also seen that as servants of our Lord, we are able to mismanage the gospel treasures entrusted to us not only by a negative abuse, but also by a lack of positive use.  For it wasn’t as if the third slave squandered or embezzled His Master’s money for His own use; he is condemned in the parable for having done nothing with it because he buried it in the ground.

Notice that the parable doesn’t use the word bury to describe what the slave did with his treasure; what word does it use?  See Mat 15:18.  Considering that his relationship to the master was based on fear rather than love (cf. Mat 25:24-25), how does this help us to understand why the third servant would have buried his master’s money in the ground?  Cf. Mat 6:19.  As thieves are a real hazard to worldly wealth, who are the thieves who will deprive us of our spiritual wealth?  Cf. Joh 10:8,10, Act 20:29-30, 2Co 11:14-15.  How does Scripture describe those who have been “robbed” (NIV) or deprived of the truth?  See 1Ti 6:3-5, and notice that the NAS deprived in 1Ti 6:5 means to defraud, and is listed by Jesus along with “do not steal” and “do not bear false witness” as the intent of the law by which one may inherit eternal life; see Mar 10:19; cf. 1Co 6:7-8, Jam 5:3-4.  Is the solution to thieves of worldly wealth to just bury our treasures so they are of no use to anyone, including ourselves?  Or is the solution to make use of such riches as wisely as we can, dividing and investing our portions in different things to minimize our risk, realizing that in any business things don’t always go as planned, so that the best we can do is to minimize our losses while at the same time looking to God to provide the increase in those ventures that are successful?  Cf. Ecc 11:2.  In what way are those ventures most successful in which material wealth is invested in human capital and spread among many people to provide goods and services that benefit the masses—such as electricity, gasoline, or cell phones?[1]  Whereas the misfortunes of a fallen creation may happen to our worldly possessions and thieves may break in and steal our wealth so that we need to diversify our material investments to protect ourselves against such loss, is the same actually true of the heavenly treasures entrusted to us?  Cf. Mat 6:19-20.

In what way had the Jews in the past been defrauded of the spiritual treasures entrusted to them by God through idolatry and other sins?  In what way did the scribes and Pharisees guard against that by building a wall around the law and entrenching themselves in their religious doctrine to the point that their non-material wealth was of no use to others, and became of no use to themselves?  See Luk 10:31-32, Mat 23:33; cf. Luk 16:1-14.  How is that just like those who have heaps of material wealth but dig a hole and hide in in the ground so it so that it is of no use to anyone?  Is it possible that in this same way today, for fear of being deprived of their spiritual treasures by fraudsters, Christians could entrench themselves in their denominational or sectarian doctrines and creeds to the point that their spiritual treasure no longer benefits anyone, including themselves?

[1] Money is like manure (so my Lord Bacon used to say), good for nothing in the heap, but it must be spread; yet it is an evil which we have often seen under the sun, treasure heaped together (Jam 5:3), which does good to nobody; and so it is in spiritual gifts; many have them, and make no use of them for the end for which they were given them.  Those that have estates, and do not lay them out in works of piety and charity; that have power and interest, and do not with it promote religion in the places where they live; ministers that have capacities and opportunities of doing good, but do not stir up the gift that is in them, are those slothful servants that seek their own things more than Christ’s.  Matthew Henry.

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