by Andrew McColl, 23/6/2015
- The parable of the talents focuses on economic investment. A resource owner gives capital to three servants. He tells them to administer it until he returns. At his return, he assesses each steward’s performance. The details of the parable are different in Matthew and Luke. In Matthew’s version, the focus is on economics: investing a total of five coins (Matt. 25:14–30). In Luke’s version, the focus is on rulership (Luke 19:12–27). Ten servants get one mina (small coin) each. At the accounting, one man has made 10 to one; another man has made five to one. The first man is given rulership over 10 cities. The second is given rulership over five cities. The third man in both versions is cast out. Luke’s version makes this point: success in economics is a surrogate for effective rulership. Why should this be true? Because of the principle of biblical stewardship: it is both judicial and economic (p.267-268).
There is one thing that generally summarises the attitude sought by holders of assets, in their servants: faithfulness. This is Biblical. No holder of assets likes to see what they have, being frittered away by foolish or indolent employees who have no care for the assets of their master.
This is because men are made in the image of God. This is what God is like. He expects us to be “Steady Eddie,” not “Flash Harry:” People who turn up for work regularly to do their job well, as those who will give an account for their actions. In doing so, they are respecting their employer and what he wants of them. Christians are honouring God when they do this.
Most of us seek to teach our children these attributes, because we know how vital it is. It means faithfulness in small things. Jesus taught that
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much: and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much (Luke 16:10).
North writes elsewhere,
“The debates in economic journals seem to be debates over the conquest of scarcity. Certainly, these debates include rival views of the conquest of scarcity. Keynesians have different views from Austrians, and both groups have different views from Marxists. But it is ultimately a debate over ownership. Who owns the world? Who delegates subordinate ownership? Who holds owners responsible for the administration of the property temporarily entrusted to them. What are the actual principles of success and failure, of supply and demand? What is the foundation of long-term economic growth? These are fundamental questions, and they include scarcity, but scarcity is not the central question. Ownership is the central question.” Gary North, “Christian Economics in One Lesson,” 16/3/2015.