The parable surrounding this verse is known as “The Parable of the Pounds.” Let’s center our attention today on verse 13 where the Master gives one simple command: to occupy until He returns.
The word “occupy” is interesting. It is used only once in the Bible, and only by Jesus. The Greek word is pragmateuomi from when we derive the English word “pragmatic.” It means “to put your capital to work; to do business; to trade.” When a country is overrun by another nation, it is said to be occupied by that nation. When a person is working at his/her trade, they are said to be engaged in their occupation. Thus, the term involves activity not passivity. We are not simply to occupy space but to go to work with what the Master has entrusted us with in His absence.
Within this one four-word sentence is a volume of useful Christian information:
There is the command to do something: “occupy”
An indefinite time-period is indicated: “till I come”
There is the assurance that He will indeed return: “come”
Note the amount given to each servant was the same: ten pounds. A pound was a Greek coin worth 100 drachmas. A drachma was a day’s wages. Thus, each servant was entrusted with about three years wages. To bring it into our century, if the average American yearly income was $40,000, it would mean each was entrusted with about $120,000 to invest for their Lord.
Only by His absence can his servants be tested and evaluated concerning both their loyalties and abilities. Each had been given funds to work with. How they invested them during the Master’s absence is the point of the parable. This passage answers the question as to whether or not believers can “sit and soak” in the pews and still be rewarded.
The gifts of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:7) are only loaned to us to profit the Lord Jesus Himself.We are not to use what He has bestowed upon us to feather our own nests. The gifts He gives us are given in order that we may bless Him—not ourselves.
Some believers are very active but accomplish little. But because they are not idle, they feel that they are useful for God. If you press them for specifics concerning soul-winning and mentoring, they change the subject. In this passage, Jesus lets us know that we have a specific assignment: to multiply what He has entrusted us with. We are saved to invest our gifts for the Master. And we are accountable directly to Him.
Remember who is teaching this parable: Jesus Himself. It is He who teaches us here about the day of reckoning. No one gets off easy who adamantly refuses to utilize their resources for the Lord. We must willingly submit to His plans for the multiplication of every gift He has bestowed—or be held accountable. The Day of Judgment will be a day of accounting, a time of both rewards and punishments (v. 15). Is He serious about our investing our time, talents and money for Him? Read verse 27. The lazy servant who refused to produce for God was killed. His twisted theology concerning the Master’s expectation got him the death sentence. The Lord is telling us that there is more to our Christian life than going to church and singing choruses. He expects measurable results. What we get up there will somehow be determined by what we do down here. No one gets a free ride in the Christian life: we are saved to work.
On the positive side, our day is also a day of tremendous opportunity. Your lifetime can be an era of service, faithfulness and reward. It is clear from verses 17-19 that the degree of our reward will be determined by the degree of our loyalty and consistency.
Throughout the day, pray and ask God how you can multiply His investment in you.