George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Parable of the Pounds
And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading--Luk. 19:15
The Context of the Parable
The Gospel tells us what was the occasion of this parable. It was spoken to correct the false impression that the Kingdom of God should immediately appear. Roused by the miracles that they had seen so lately, and impressed by the crowds who were thronging around Jesus, the people (and it may be the disciples too) were stirred to hope that the Kingdom was at hand. They little dreamed of the tragedy of Calvary, and of the strange departure of the Lord. it was then that Jesus, with infinite skill and power, narrated this little story of the nobleman. It was an emblem of His own departure to a far country to receive a kingdom. It taught in figure that first there must be departure, and the long absence of the King, before the Kingdom could come in its full glory. Note, too, how singularly apt was the choice of such a parable as this. For in Jericho, where it was uttered, there rose the palace of Archelaus, and Archelaus had acted like this nobleman. He had gone to Rome to seek a kingdom there, under the bitter hatred of the Jews. And the crowd may have been talking of Archelaus, when Jesus began this story of the nobleman. They could never forget it, then, it was so apposite. It seemed to rise out of their own experience. And so far am I from thinking that here we have two parables run together, that I believe the Lord deliberately chose that framework to introduce the lesson of the pounds.
All These Servants Got the Same Endowment
In the talents, each servant got a different sum. One received five, another two, and the third one. But here all ten servants got the same amount; each got one pound, and was to trade with that. That means that there are various gifts and graces which are bestowed in differing measures upon all; but there are some things we all receive alike, they are distributed equally amongst us. What are your talents then? that is the question; and what do you think your pound is? In other words, how do you differ from the folk around you, and in what respect are you all on the same footing? Well, one of you is cleverer than the other, and one is stronger, and one has a firmer will. These things, and a thousand things like these, are all comprehended in your talents. But have you not all got the Word of God alike? Is not the one Bible in your hearts and hands? I believe that that is the pound we have to trade with--the Word of the Kingdom we have got from Christ. Jesus has gone; we do not see Him now; but He has left with all of us the Gospel. And it is His word, so simple and so true, so full of wisdom, of power, and of love, that we are to be the merchant with, till the King returns from the land that is far off.
What a Little Gift This Was
The gift almost seems unworthy of a king. A talent was a tolerable sum of money--its value was somewhere over two hundred pounds. But a mina (for that is the word for pound in the original) was only some sixty shillings of our money. One mina to each servant from the nobleman--what a trifling gratuity it appears! Yet be sure that Jesus had a meaning in that--the sum was chosen in the Lord's perfect wisdom. Does it not tell us that what the nobleman wanted was to find if his followers were really faithful? It is often so much harder to be faithful in little things than in the great transactions. Make it a thousand pounds, and the dullest of all the servants would have felt the responsibility upon him. But make it one pound, and we shall soon discover the hearts that are most loyal to their absent Lord. Now it is just that that Jesus longs to find. The risen Lord is saying, Lovest thou Me? And in the gifts we equally enjoy there is an abiding test of our love and loyalty. One look seems a small thing, and yet one look broke Simon Peter's heart. One sentence seems a very little thing, and yet one sentence converted the Philippian jailer. One pound seems quite a trifling gift, yet that gift becomes the touchstone of our character.
These Servants Were Unequally Rewarded, But They Were Rewarded According to Their Faithfulness
Did you ever note which of the three Christ praises? He only praises the man who made ten pounds. He rewards the servant whose pound had gained five pounds, but you will notice that He does not praise him. The man has done something, and he shall have his reward but he gets no warm commendation from the Lord. Does not that hint that he who had gained five pounds might have done better if he had really tried? It was not inferior ability, Christ means, and it was not any bad luck in business, that kept him from winning ten pounds too. It was just that he had not traded with all his heart like the servant who was made happy with the praise. Let us learn, then, this simple lesson of rewards, that our faithfulness is going to be the measure of them. And let that thought make us doubly earnest to be very faithful with our pound. You say it is very little you can do? But "because thou hast been faithful in very little have thou authority over ten cities"
Unused Gifts Are Misused Gifts
The man who did nothing with his dowry, lost it. He had not squandered it, that was the strange thing. He had only kept it useless in the napkin. Yet not to use it was finally to lose it. And it is always so with the good gifts of God. The gifts of God are never at home in napkins. We must employ them, if we would enjoy them. It is a commonplace. But it makes all the difference between success and failure here, and between life and death in the eternity.
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