A Parable

There was a certain king who had two adopted sons. They were the children of servants who had been tragically killed in the king’s service, so he had adopted them as his own.

The first appeared to be of quite average intelligence. There was nothing particularly distinguishable about him or his achievements, and he often seemed to lack initiative. He only did what he was asked – no more, and usually no less. He never did anything without first finding out exactly what was expected – how the king wanted it done and what was the expected result. Many people thought he was rather pedantic about following the “rules” and sometimes got rather annoyed with him, but that didn’t seem to bother him. He just kept plodding along, doing what was asked, no more and no less.

The other was a “go-getter”. He was extremely intelligent. He had initiative in spades and energy to burn. He was always on the go, doing things for his adoptive father, seemingly never satisfied that he had done enough to please the king. As for the rules, forget it. The king was old and rather set in his ways, in his opinion. Time had moved on, new ways to achieve results had been devised and the son knew much more about modern life and methods than the king. In other words, he knew best. Oh, sure, he sometimes did what the king asked, but he always did it his own way, and wasn’t afraid to take shortcuts if he thought it would save time or effort. He spent much of his time hanging around with scientists and scholars, discussing the latest developments and working out how he could use his new-found knowledge to his advantage, all in the name of serving the king, of course.

The king, meanwhile, was planning a major project. One that would impact the lives of every subject in the kingdom. He knew that it had to be done exactly right. He knew how it had to be done, and what the consequences would be if it wasn’t done exactly according to plan.

Which of the two sons would he be most likely to choose? The one who “knew best”, who would be likely to do things his own way and disregard the instructions of the king? Or the one who he knew would follow his instructions exactly, regardless of how silly or old-fashioned they seemed, trusting the kings judgment and realising that the king gave those instructions for a reason, even if that reason wasn’t immediately obvious?

The same applies to the kingdom of God. Jesus told a very interesting parable in Luke 19;

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In other parables we see that things of value are often associated with God’s torah (e.g. the parable of the lost coin). Let us for a moment apply that principle here. Each of the servants is given the Torah containing the master’s instructions. The first applied it (invested it) and bore fruit, which he presented back to his master at the master’s return. What was the master’s response?

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The second servant did likewise, but maybe wasn’t quite so wise in his dealings. He bore less fruit, but fruit nevertheless, which again was presented to the maser. The master’s response was similar.

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The last servant did nothing with the gift. He kept it wrapped up (perhaps in a book on the shelf?) and gave it back to the master untouched. What was the master’s response to this?

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This brings to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:

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One last point needs to be made – the last servant still lived and was still a part of the kingdom, just without the same reward as the others. What happened to those who rejected the master’s rule outright?

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Obedience is not an issue of salvation, but completely rejecting the master is. God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt before He took them to the mountain. He asked them to enter into relationship with him before He gave the teachings and instructions for living (the Torah). Like the two servants of the king mentioned above, your obedience determines your usefulness to the King and directly influences how much you’ll be entrusted with.

In Romans 8 Paul talks about our adoption as sons. Adoption implies responsibility. When a child young and immature, he or she is not expected to know all of the rules of the household and mistakes are expected and understood, although corrected as part of the learning process; however, as the child matures, they’re expected to learn the rules and grow into obedience. The same applies to us. When we are first adopted as sons, we don’t know all the rules. We are expected however to study His Word, to learn to live as members of His household and to grow into obedience to His instructions. This is a process, not something that happens instantaneously. We all mature at different rates – some take longer than others. The important thing though is that we’re willing to learn and accept correction when we get it wrong.

The heart attitude is all important – God cannot use one who is unteachable or unrepentant. How much do we want to learn His ways? How useful do we want to be in His kingdom? How faithful will be be in the little things? How much can we be entrusted with?

Rodney posted at כ״ו באייר ה׳תש״ע (May 10, 2010) Category: Uncategorized