A Glimpse into Eternity: The Question of Your Life
Blink of the Eye
Of all the events of our never-ending life, there is one that stands out above the rest.
You may recall me outlining for you that our never-ending life actually has not two markers (birth and death), but six markers consisting of birth, death, destination, resurrection, rewards and eternity.
One of the biggest lessons of all is that birth and death, and the span of time between these two, are not only two of six markers of your real life; but also that that span of years between birth and death is incredibly minute compared to the length of your never-ending life.
This means that these years on earth are but a blink of the eye compared to the rest of your life.
A blink of the eye….. Normally a blink of the eye means that it’s not all that important. You blink and it’s gone, right? How can that be important?
Yet that blink of an eye, those relatively few moments of your life, are among the most important aspects of your never-ending life for it sets the destination and quality of life after your death.
Your destination in the next life – heaven or hell – is determined by what you do with Jesus in this life in terms of calling on his name and making him your Saviour.
You do that and your destination will be heaven. Don't do that, and your destination will be hell.
Not only that, but also once you have settled the destination question you then need to live your life as a follower of Jesus so that you have the highest quality of life in heaven.
Quality of eternity is tied into rewards, compensation and being given what is owed you based on how you lived your Christian life.
So we talked about the gold standard of rewards and compensation consisting of the five gold crowns given out for selfless service, sharing the Gospel with others, having an eye for Christ’s return, living a consistent Christian life and being willing to do all that despite opposition and pressure.
We pointed out that the gold standard is not only what you do but the motivation behind it, namely being motivated by love for others, the glory of God and out of close relationship with Jesus.
You do all that and you will own the podium and get that gold medallion which will be the ticket to an incredible eternity.
That moment is actually the moment of your never-ending life. When that gold medallion is hung around your neck as you hear “Well done, good and faithful servant!” it will bring you to the defining moment of your life!
In the New Testament in his parables, Jesus teaches on that.
The Parable of the Ten Minas:
“A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.” Luke 19:12-15
The Parable of the Talents:
14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.” Matt. 25:14-19
The Parable of the Tenants:
33 “There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.” Matthew 21:33-34
All very different from each other but the same theme underlines all three.
It may be land, talents or money, but the point is that in all three there was a clear stewardship expectation.
An opportunity to grow an asset was provided in the absence of an owner, with an expectation that what was entrusted would grow and eventually handed back to the owner.
And depending on how the asset grows, so would then be the rewards.
“You have been commissioned to manage an asset for your Master. Your asset is your life – the sum of your talents, strengths, personality, and interests. Your opportunity is to manage your life in such a away that you greatly increase your Master’s kingdom.” Bruce Wilkinson
All three parables point to the fact that there will be this moment where an accounting for the stewardship of an earthly life will be required and that the outcome will determine the reward received which in turn determines the quality of the eternal life.
The Opportunity of a Lifetime
In each case there is the opportunity of a lifetime, be it a vineyard made available, talents handed out, or in the case of the minas, a tidy sum of money:
“A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten Minas. Put this money to work.”
What an opportunity! Ten servants were each given what was known as a Mina or three years’ worth of salaries – you do the math and figure out how rich that is!
No matter how you slice it, it was an opportunity of a lifetime!
Few get that opportunity, but when they do the onus is on them to make the opportunity grow: “Put this money to work.”
It is so similar with the servants in the Parable of the Talents. What an opportunity they had (“he called his own servants and delivered his goods to them”) with the unspoken understanding that they were to put this to good use and make it grow!
Both sets of servants knew that this was not a gift but a loan, that they were not the owners but only stewards, and that the investment needed to be returned. And when it was returned, it needed to be returned bigger than how they found it.
So in the Parable of the Talents, the one who was given five was to double it to ten, the one who was given two was to double it to four and the one who was given one was to double it to two.
The point is: it is essential to grow what is entrusted to you.
The same thing applies in the Parable of the ten Minas. Each of the ten was given three years’ worth of salaries, with the instruction to put this money to work.
Well Done, My Good Servant!
Of those ten servants, the spotlight lands on three.
The first one came back and said “Sir, your mina has earned ten more.” Amazing return on the investment! The master is thrilled and says: 17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.”
There you see the quality of life ahead for this servant. He would be elevated from being a mere servant to being in charge of ten cities. Can you imagine that?
The spotlight then lands on the second servant who had just as much given to him as the first servant: 18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.” 19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’ ”
Wow, five cities! To go from servant to the mayor of five cities is equally impressive, wouldn't you think? That’s quite the rags to riches story, right?
Well, not so fast! Notice the absence of the commendation. No one said “well done” or “good servant” or even “because you were faithful in a very small matter.”
This is not because the master was demanding or harsh in any way.
Each of these servants was chosen to be given this because they had the potential within them to bring back ten times the investment.
The master knew that each servant had it within them to have done more.
Don't confuse this with the Parable of the Talents where talents were handed out according to ability or life situations. “And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability.” Matthew 25:15
In the first parable each received the same Mina, while in this parable each received various numbers of talents. So the one with five was expected to bring back ten, which was not the case with the servant with two, and certainly not the one with one.
Each was given according to their ability; each according to what had been given them.
You cannot expect a one talent to make ten any more than you can expect two to make ten but you can certainly expect a five talent to make ten.
As long as the one makes two and the two make four and the four make ten, then all is well. In fact, if that happens then you would hear the same commendation:
‘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.” Matthew 25:23
Here is a little test for you: Who do you think this was said to in the Parable of the Talents? I bet your first response is the guy who made five become ten, right?
While it’s true that those same words were said to the five-talent guy, these words in Matt. 25:23 are actually said to the two-talent servant.
And I am going to bet that the same words would have been said to the one talent servant had he turned his one into two!
Folks, its not what you end up with that matters but what you end up with based on what you have been given.
The only reason why the one talent servant heard an indictment was not because he didn't bring back ten nor four but because he didn't bring back the two that he could have.
Had he doubled his investment based on his ability he would have been in the same boat as the other two.
The Parable of the Ten Minas
That brings me back to the other parable – the one with the Mina. Remember how each servant was given the same amount. Each was given one Mina.
This is where this one becomes different from the other parable. We’re not talking about one servant receiving five Mina while the other got two and the third one one. All of them received the same amount!
“So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ ” Luke 19:13
The first one lived up to his fullest potential and turned his one into ten, and the other one reached some of his potential by turning his one into five (although his destiny was for him to reach ten as well). The third servant, on whom that spotlight fell, did nothing with what was given him!
That’s the great tragedy here!
While neither this servant nor the servant with the one talent in the other parable were cast out of heaven, neither one of them received any rewards or payments for a life invested.
“Their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”
I Cor. 3:10-15
What a shame to be saved as one escaping through the flames. How sad to stand empty-handed at the edge of eternity!
The Parable of the Ten Minas warns us against three common misconceptions when it comes to how to be the best stewards we can be.
Lesson 1: We are expected to bring back great returns!
We think that even though God gave us gifts and talents, He is somehow not bothered if we don't make the best of every opportunity.
The reality from the first servant who turned his one Mina into ten is that God does expect us to take the resources of our lives and greatly multiply them for the kingdom!
Lesson 2: Rewards are proportionate to reaching our potential!
We think that the rewards are all the same for everyone and that heaven is a place where everyone has the same opportunities.
The reality from the second servant who turned his one Mina into five (when he could have reached ten) is that that our reward will be in direct proportion to how we have multiplied our lives for him on earth; and, furthermore, that reward will have a major and eternal impact on our future.
Lesson 3: There is no such thing as ‘no loss’!
We think that if we don't serve God with what he has given us the worst that can happen to us is that we will have no reward.
The reality from the third servant who kept his one Mina as one Mina, when he also could have reached ten, is that there is loss.
There is loss of a potential reward, the loss of opportunity for great service in the only life that counts, and the shame of an eternity with empty pockets.
So this day determines a Ten-Mina man or woman! You have it within you to be that. You were born to be that. The obstacles of life do not limit you from reaching Ten-Mina status!
God has gifted us all differently. We all have different talents. Some of us have five, others of us have two and some of us have one.
No matter where you are this morning you can reach ten-Mina status!
You think you are only a one-talent person? Fine! Reach ten-Mina status by seeing the one talent turn into two!
If you start out with one and you stretch it to two you will be at the same level of reward as the one who starts with five and finishes with ten.
And lest you think that your time is gone, that your best years are behind you, and that you have somehow wasted or squandered a lifetime of opportunity; or that you have come to faith late in life and that you will never ever catch up to those who have been at it since morning, that is simply not true.
You need to know that in God’s great equalization plan there is still the opportunity to give of your best to the master even in these later years and that God will make it so that you will still get your reward too.
Don't ask me how He will do that, and He will have to sort out each person’s reward, but I do know that God does have a great equalization plan.
That plan I see in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard and in closing let these words be the balm of Gilead for you:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ ”
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ ”
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.” Matthew 20:1-9
This day, decide to be a Ten-Mina Servant!
Here you can find several messages. Feel free to write your thoughts or questions in the comment section.