Parable of the Minas: Jesus’s Little-Known Parable on Time Stewardship

You may have heard of the Parable of the Persistent Widow or the Parable of the Sower. Ever heard of the Parable of the Good Samaritan? The Parable of the Prodigal Son?

Oh, you have? Ok, how about the Parable of the Minas?
… <cricket chirp>
…Parable of the what?

The Parable of the Minas is often missed simply because it’s so similar to the more well-known Parable of the Talents. To be honest, until about two years ago I didn’t even realize these were two different stories. Yet despite the similarities, there are noticeable and profound differences between the two parables. And in examining these differences, we get a unique perspective of God’s views on stewardship – straight from the mouth of Jesus Himself.

Parable of the Talents

In this parable, a “talent” does not mean ability or skill (like a “talent show”). A talent referred to a measure of considerable money – approximately the wages of an average worker over 20 years.

There’s a lot that could be discussed about this passage, such as the significance of the master in this parable taking a journey or the wicked servant burying his talent, but for now let’s focus on the two good servants:

Matthew 25:14-30
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

These servants were entrusted to manage the property of someone else – they were made stewards. Not surprisingly, this passage is absolutely foundational to many of our beliefs on stewardship.

The Parable of the Talents has traditionally been interpreted as referring to Christians as being stewards of our financial wealth – managers of God’s money which he has temporarily entrusted to us. We can see that the three servants were each given a different amount to manage, just as some believers are quite wealthy while others are not. This passage could also be applied to our skills and abilities, where some believers are given huge amounts of ability and opportunity while others are not.

Yet, take a look at verses 21 and 23. The servant with the five talents and the servant with the two talents received the exact same reward: the famous “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It didn’t matter that they stood before the master with different results and different amounts. The only thing that mattered was that they were faithful with whatever amount, large or small, that the master entrusted to them.

Parable of the Minas

A mina was also a measure of money, although it was quite a bit less than a talent.

Let’s take a look at the Parable of the Minas, and pay close attention to the differences between it and the Parable of the Talents.

Luke 19:12-26
12He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. 13Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ 14But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. 16The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ 19And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

So what are the differences?
There are two particular things I’d like to point out:

– The servants received an equal amount of money in the Parable of the Minas. They received different amounts of money in the Parable of the Talents.
– The good servants were rewarded differently in the Parable of the Minas. They were rewarded equally in the Parable of the Talents.

Now take a moment to reflect on that first point. In the Parable of the Talents, the servants received different amounts of money. We talked about how that represents areas such as our wealth or our skills and abilities – areas where God may have gifted us in different amounts.

The Parable of the Minas and Time Stewardship

But then what could the Parable of the Minas be referring to? What resource does God entrust to us equally?
Some might say “spiritual insight” or “potential for growth” or “opportunities for evangelism”. To be sure, we could talk for days about the various areas where we are stewards. But I submit to you a particular area of application.

What resource does God entrust to us equally?

Our time.

It doesn’t matter how rich or famous or skilled or important or wise you are – you get 24 hours in a day just like everyone else. At this very moment, God is depositing precious seconds into your “time bank account” – and you are withdrawing those seconds, whether you choose to or not, at the set rate of 60 per minute.

Then what are the implications of the second point – the fact that the servants were rewarded differently based on their performance?

It may be scripturally obvious here, but it’s quite challenging to us personally. God will give greater rewards to those of us who are good stewards of our time. Some of us will stand before God having accomplished much with our time, while some of us will have accomplished little.

Until our Master returns he has told us, “Engage in business until I come.” (v.13) What will you have to say when you stand before Him?

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