On Monday mornings, we feature a devotional written by DBC men and women who want to encourage and challenge you in your understanding of God’s Word. Our prayer is that you will sense God’s nearness as you encounter Jesus afresh this year.
Burying $535 Billion
-Written by Zane Parsley, Elementary Minister
In 2017, the DFW metroplex recorded a gross domestic product of 535.5 billion dollars. Don’t let that number slide by you – that’s billion with a “B”. This number means DFW produces more wealth on a yearly basis than the economies of Iran and Luxembourg combined. In fact, if you look at a list of the highest grossing cities across the United States, you’ll see Dallas right at the top (5th only behind New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago). Dallas has been entrusted much.
It’s hard for most Americans to wrap their minds around how much a billion dollars really is. Aside from a handful of extremely wealthy individuals, most of us will never get anywhere near a this massive sum of money within our lifetimes. When I think about $535.5 billion, I can do little more than scratch my head in perplexity.
Perhaps this is how the disciples felt when Jesus began to recount the parable of the talents. In the first century, a talent was an unfathomable sum of money for most. Representing 6,000 denarii, a couple talents was about as much as a day laborer could expect to earn over the course of his/her entire life. In a time without 401k’s, joint IRA’s, and diversified portfolios, the possibility of ever even seeing a talent was farfetched among most in the ancient world. Yet, it is this unit of currency that Jesus places in the hands of the fictional servants in Matthew 25.
Within the parable, three servants are given different sums of money and are told to watch over the wealth until the master returns. One servant is given five talents, another is given two, and the last is entrusted with one. After some time, the master returns and rewards each servant accordingly. The first two servants, being wise with their investments, are entrusted with more upon the return of the master. The remaining servant, having merely maintained the exorbitant value of his talent by hiding it, is sharply rebuked and cast out of his master’s presence. Jesus sums up the parable with the following truth, “To everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
Like any parable, we must be careful not to draw one-to-one comparisons too quickly. Jesus is not saying that God will throw his irresponsible Christians out of the kingdom. Instead he is offering us an inside glimpse into the economy of God’s quickly approaching kingdom. In the coming world, yet foggy and indistinct, God will mete to each of us according to our stewardship on earth. To those, who through perseverance and sacrifice have multiplied blessing, God will give more. From those, who in laziness and fear have squandered their gifts, God will take. In short, we will receive what is worthy of our earthly stewardship.
To my friends at Dallas Bible, I would like for you to consider the unfathomable wealth God has entrusted to you. Privilege and wealth take many forms; Sometimes it looks like financial capital, cars, and houses, other times it looks like education, eloquence, and friendship. I wonder how many of us have stopped to take stock of what God has entrusted us with. Is our service consistent with our resources? Or are we, like the worthless servant, squandering the exorbitant riches we have been entrusted with?
If I may borrow from Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I challenge you to find a city with more wealth, more influence, and more Christians than Dallas. Without a doubt, we are the servant with five talents. This makes us neither better nor worse than other cities – it merely changes our expectations. In the coming decade, the way the broader faith community of Dallas responds to lostness, poverty, technology, and the environment will set the course for the rest of the country. Furthermore, the way we teach the 150 future doctors, engineers, politicians, and homemakers that gather weekly in our kids ministry will directly impact the fate and destination of our nation. It is for this reason that I encourage you to approach this passage with excitement and trepidation.
What a terrible and great responsibility we have, Dallas Bible. Let us steward it well.