GIFTS AND REWARDS 2
In our article last week, we saw that God firstly gives us the gifts of eternal life and the power of the Holy Spirit; we are then rewarded with greater and greater measures of the life and power of God as we use these gifts profitably in spiritual labour.
This week, we will examine this truth in more detail using the parables of the pounds in Luke. 19:12-27 and talents in Matthew. 25:14-30.
Now, when we first get born-again all of us are given the same measure of faith and eternal life as gifts; this is shown in the parable of the pounds:
Luke 19:12-27 NKJV: Therefore He said, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive a kingdom for himself, and to return. (13) And He called his ten servants and delivered ten minas, and said to them, Trade until I come back. (14) But his citizens hated him. And they sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this one to reign over us. (15) And when he had received his kingdom and had returned, then it happened that he commanded these servants to be called to him; the ones to whom he had given the silver; so that he might know what each had gained by trading. (16) And came the first, saying, Lord, your mina has gained ten minas. (17) And he said to him, Well done, good servant, because you have been faithful in a least thing, have authority over ten cities. (18) And the second came, saying, Lord, your mina has made five minas. (19) And he said the same to him, You be over five cities. (20) And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is your mina, which I have kept in a handkerchief. (21) For I feared you, because you are a harsh man. You take up what you did not lay down, and you reap what you did not sow. (22) And he said to him, I will judge you out of your own mouth, wicked servant! You knew that I was a harsh man, taking up what I had not laid down and reaping what I did not sow. (23) And why did you not give my silver on the bank table, and coming I might have exacted it with interest? (24) And he said to those who stood by, Take the mina from him and give it to him who has ten minas. (25) And they said to him, Lord, he has ten minas. (26) For I say to you that to everyone who has, more will be given. And from him who has not, even that which he has will be taken from him. (27) But those who are my enemies, who did not desire that I should reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.
Notice that those who used their gift of 1 mina or pound to work were rewarded with 10 pounds and 5 pounds. The lazy servant suffered loss; the rebellious citizens were executed.
This tells us that diligent Christians will be rewarded with greater measures of life and power; lazy Christians will suffer loss though they might be saved so as by fire, while rebellious Christians who reject the Lordship of Christ stand the risk of going to hell:
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 NKJV: (11) For any other foundation can no one lay than the one being laid, who is Jesus Christ. (12) And if anyone builds on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, (13) each one’s work shall be revealed. For the Day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try each one’s work as to what kind it is. (14) If anyone’s work which he built remains, he shall receive a reward. (15) If anyone’s work shall be burned up, he shall suffer loss. But he shall be saved, yet so as by fire.
John 15:6 NKJV: If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered. And they gather and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Now in the parable of the talents we see the servants start out not with equal gifts but with rewards given according to their several abilities.
Matthew 25:14-30 NKJV: For it is as if a man going abroad called his own servants and gave them his goods. (15) And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to each according to his ability. And he went abroad at once. (16) And going he who had received the five talents traded with them, and made another five talents. (17) And likewise he who had received two, he also gained another two. (18) But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the earth and hid his lord’s silver. (19) After a long time the lord of those servants came and took account with them. (20) And so he who had received five talents came and brought another five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered five talents to me. Behold, I have gained five talents above them. (21) His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a few things; I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. (22) He also who had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered two talents to me. Behold, I have gained two other talents above them. (23) His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. (24) And he who had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew that you were a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter. (25) And I was afraid and went and hid your talent in the earth. Lo, you have yours. (26) His lord answered and said to him, Evil and slothful servant! You knew that I reaped where I did not sow, and gathered where I did not scatter, (27) then you should have put my money to the exchangers, and coming I would have received my own with interest. (28) Therefore take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents. (29) For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will abound. But from him who has not, even that which he has shall be taken away from him. (30) And throw the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Obviously they had been assesed over a period of time, typified by 7 years:
Deuteronomy 15:1 NKJV: At the end of every seven years you shall make a release;
This is the time of completion of a stage of spiritual growth: baby to little-child‚ 7 years; little-child to young man—-7 years; young man to Father—-7 years; using Joseph (Genesis. 37:2; 41:46, 53-54;45:4-6), David (1 Samuel. 16:11, 17:42), Paul (Galatians. 2:1) and the Lord Jesus (Luke. 2:42,49; 3:23) as types.
So after each stage of growth we are given measures of life and power according to our abilities or the labour we have done during that stage:
The person given five talents represents those who have procured favour by a great amount of diligence:
Proverbs 11:27 KJV: He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.
This person is rewarded with an extra five talents.
The person given two talents represents those who have a witness (2 is God’s number for witness (2 Corintians. 13:1)) of some degree of diligence.
This person is rewarded with an extra two talents.
The person with one talent represents those who have not shown any diligence at all and still have the same measure of life and power they had at the beginning of that stage of growth.
This person suffers the loss of a reward:
1 Corinthians 3:15 NKJV: If anyone’s work shall be burned up, he shall suffer loss. But he shall be saved, yet so as by fire.
So these two parables taken together show us that when we first get born-again God gives to all saints the same measure of the gift of faith, life and power:
Romans 12:3 NKJV: For I say, through the grace given to me, to every one who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. But set your mind to be right-minded, even as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Then after periods of growth we are rewarded based on how we have used the gifts given to us and finally we are rewarded eternally with a total combination of all the rewards we have been receiving during our stages of spiritual growth:
Revelation 22:12 NKJV: And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each according as his work is.
The good news in all of this is that if you see that you have not been doing well previously you can make the decision to improve and increase your diligence and if you have been doing well take heed to yourself to maintain and even improve your diligence so that you do not lose what you have gained:
2 John 1:8 NKJV: Look to yourselves, so that we may not lose those things which we worked out, but that we may receive a full reward.
Ruth 2:12 NKJV: May Jehovah repay your work, and may a full reward be given you from Jehovah, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to trust.
The full reward is the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians. 4.11) causing us like Christ (Luke. 6.40) to sit on God’s throne:
Revelation 3:21 NIV: To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.