Read verses 13-18
Q: What are possible meanings and applications of this story? [Encourage group discussion; suggestions provided below for facilitating that discussion.]
- We are expected to do the right thing in this life with what we’ve been given without the expectation that we will receive a reward for it in this life.
- For some it matters who gets the credit, but for us it’s enough for us that God knows. He will reward in eternity what was overseen on earth.
- Just because someone listens to us once in awhile does not mean that they will begin to listen to us all the time.
- Under times of extreme duress people may listen to a righteous man only because it's the only way to survive, but almost never during times of peace.
Observation: Is it possible that there have been/are/will be times that the “small city” refers to the church/Christians, the “great king” to Satan, and the “poor wise man” as a type of Christ? In other words, that there is great attentiveness to Christ in times of extreme stress or spiritual persecution, but a tendency to wander from His Word during relative times of peace and blessing? (It sort of mirrors the historical cycle of revival.)
Q: What is the dramatic contrast between the small city in v.13-17 and the “one sinner” in v.18?
A: Just as it only took a single wise man to overcome the crisis by God’s wisdom, it only takes acceptance of a single instance of sin to overcome something good.
Point: A single righteous man overcoming overwhelming evil is found in the examples of Noah, David and Goliath, Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, and David. A single sinner destroying much is found in the example of Achan (Joshua 7:16-26), Micah making his own idol and anointing his own priest (Judges 17-18), Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews (Esther), Absalom’s revolt against his father David, etc.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
— James 2:10
Q: What is the even greater contrast between these last verses and the rest of chapter 9?
A: Until this point, the examples used in the discussion might be called “great people”, people who by their great, personal strength and will were attempting to establish works in their own name. At the very end is a discussion of “little people”, those who will never be recognized or remembered for anything in the course of this life. It’s an extension of the “one fate awaits all” statement, showing that whether one is great or small, known or obscure, esteemed or loathed, the ONLY thing that is going to matter in the very end is the degree to which you lived according to God’s will and ways.
Application: Often there is great attentiveness to God in times of extreme stress or persecution, but a tendency to wander away during times of relative peace and blessing.
Consider the application to this discussion of this parable of Christ:
While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.
“But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’
“When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done. The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’
“And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’
“The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’
“And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’
“Another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.’
“He said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’
“Then he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’
“And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’
“I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.”
— Luke 19:11-27
Application of the Parable:
- It’s not “how much” we’ve been given, but what we do with whatever we’ve been given.
- Not doing anything is a form of rebellion.
- What each individual does is their own choice, but they will be held accountable both in this life and the one to come.