Failure is Not an Option

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 96; 147:1-11, Deuteronomy 31:30-32:14, 2 Corinthians 11:21b-33, Luke 19:11-27


In the parable of the ten minas (a unit of currency worth about four months’ wages), Jesus tells the story of a wealthy land owner who entrusts one mina each to ten servants before he traveled abroad to have himself appointed king (an unpopular idea among his subjects). Upon his triumphant return, the newly appointed king summoned his servants to find out how they had handled his money. The first one had earned a tenfold return, the second a fivefold return, and the third had buried it and returned it without increase. The king gave the first servant ten cities, the second five cities, and took the mina away from the third to give it to the first.

This parable was about how Jesus’s followers should invest their time and talents while they waited for the eventual arrival of the Kingdom. We hear about the results of three servants, but what of the other seven? Specifically, what do we think would have happened to a servant who made an honest effort to increase his or her mina but lost it all? The king says that those who have nothing will lose even more … but is he talking about money? After all, this is a parable about faith.

We might find a clue in the master’s response: “I will judge you by your own words.” If we, like the third servant, live timidly because we believe in a tyrannical, petty God, that is the God we will experience. But if we trust God and the gifts given us, and use them boldly, we will find they increase. And in the event of failure, we must continue to trust. Trust approaches failure like a comma that gives us pause to gather our thoughts, rather than a period that completes our sentence. Trust in God means failure, even unto death, is never the final state.

Let’s make confident, risky investments of the gifts God has entrusted to us. We will inevitably experience failures, but if we are to be judged by our own words, let us speak of a merciful, loving Lord.

Comfort: Faith in action is faith multiplied.

Challenge: On scraps of paper, write down things you are afraid to do, but think you should. Put them in a bowl, mix them up, and commit to doing the one you pull out at random.

Prayer: My Lord and Savior, I will trust you with all my mind, heart, and soul. Amen.

Discussion: What fears stop you from doing the things you want to?

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