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25. The Parable of the Pounds (Luke 19)

The parables of Christ are beautifully polished jewels, which present an infinite variety of sparkling views. Many lessons both broad and subtle may be suggested from their reverent contemplation. For our purposes one lesson stands out in the parable of the pounds.

Brother John Carter has incisively noted (Parables of the Messiah, p. 258) that, in contrast to the talents of a similar parable (Matt. 25:14-30), the pounds were distributed evenly to a large company — indicative of the gift of the gospel itself, bestowed equally upon all who hear. Each recipient was instructed by the nobleman to occupy himself by making gain of his gift. What concerns us especially is the subsequent attitude and actions of the unfaithful servant, of whom we read in Luke 19:20,21:

“And another came, saying, ‘Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.’ ”

This servant no doubt had the cleanest pound of all, but it had not grown! He had not been totally indifferent to his lord’s gift, but his fear of failure had compelled him carefully to “protect” his pound. So he had wrapped it in a cloth and laid it up in some safe place, perhaps checking it from time to time, maybe even bringing it out, like some housewives do with fine silver, to polish and admire it.

Our attitude toward the Gospel truth that we have received can be similar to the attitude of this man. If we are fearful that we may “lose the Truth” and conscious only of “keeping the Truth pure”, then we are in danger of forgetting what we are told to DO with it! The gospel is not a frail greenhouse flower that must have just the right temperature and humidity, and just the correct amount of light and water in order to survive. The gospel is very hardy; it is meant like the pound to be carried into the “market” of life, to the highways and byways, and to make gain for its user. We need have no fear for the Truth itself — it springs from God and is impervious to corruption. We must only be careful that we put it to the use for which it is intended.

This same point is subtly made in other parables of Christ — for example, the parables of the sower and the wheat and tares (see Chapter 4 of this book). Is it enough that we as husbandmen of the Lord’s “field” be concerned with the uprooting of “weeds” or “tares”? Is it enough that we keep the field “pure”? There must be at least as much effort — and more, much more — directed toward the positive endeavor of sowing the seed. The farmer expects some imperfection in his field, and he puts up with it, knowing that his paramount interest must be in the production of grain. The harvest is soon enough for the last weeds or tares to be separated from the good grain.

It is so simple when we see it this way. But how many frustrated “sowers” have consumed their lives in the Truth in worry and agitation about the “purity” of the “field”, so to speak, and never gotten around to their real duty? Let us strive for a proper balance in our service in the Truth, lest our intolerable and unbalanced attitude condemn us outright before our Judge (Luke 19:22).

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