Thrive: Is it Fair? – Cynthia Insko

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Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.” His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” The man with two bags of gold also came. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.” His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.” His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
—Matthew 25: 14-30

I have three children. It’s very important to me to avoid favoritism and treat each fairly. For example, when the last brownie is left in the pan, I meticulously cut it in three equal parts to distribute a piece to each child, fair and square. Trust me, this technique saves a lot of arguing and speculation about who got the largest piece and why. It’s amazing how something as small as a third of the last brownie in the pan can cut to the heart of their deepest fear, “Is there enough love to go around?”

Perhaps my parenting experiences are what make this parable rub me wrong. Why did the landowner have to give different amounts to his servants to begin with? Shouldn’t that landowner have given to each equally?

We often ask, “Is it fair?” Aren’t we all deserving of equal talents and opportunity?
But perhaps these are not the questions that Jesus wants us to ask. Like the landowner, Jesus looks into the heart of each servant to determine its capacity for joy and asks: Is this a heart of faith that trusts enough to let go of the talents to invest them in others? Is this a heart that sees beyond instant gratification and security to the potential eternal value of investments? Is this a heart with the capacity for joy? Is this a heart that celebrates the multiplication of investing in eternity?

So when it comes down to the last brownie or portions of talents, perhaps the right question is not, “Is it fair?” but rather, “Can I share?”

True joy comes not from fair treatment. True joy comes with the exponential growth of the Kingdom of Heaven when we share the talents that were not ever ours to begin with.

Cynthia Insko_smCynthia Williams Insko is a minister at First Baptist Church, Frankfort, Kentucky. She previously served as campus minister in Kentucky and Alabama. A graduate of Samford University and Beeson Divinity School, Cynthia is mom to three teenagers, and in her spare time, she loves to travel with her husband, Lee.

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