The parable of the minas at Luke 19:11 tells Christians in the church that their faith must be one that conquers in trade, commerce and conflict.
The Lord praises the servant who was given a mina and who invested it and created nine more. ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities,” the master says. A servant who earned four minas with his mina is given charge of five cities for greeting the master’s return with five minas in pocket.
One servant, however, is condemned because does not invest, capitalise or trade with the mina he got. Nor did he lend it out at interest, which would have been the minimum. He is condemned as wicked because he hid the mina in a napkin, to pretendedly safeguard it. “’Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant,” the master says, citing back to the servant his false claims of his master.
The work of the gospel in Christendom is delayed and its expansion is held back by those of God’s people who believe that the mina should not be invested and traded in the open market in the city — as if doing so might make it dirty and soiled and lose its power.
Yes, the napkin’s best
Here in short form is the argument for putting the mina in a napkin. The Christian is to be inactive, he is to huddle, his beliefs and Christian convictions are a private concern.
The Christianity he espouses and believes it is a private virtue. It is internal to him. It is about prayer. It is about controlling his desires, not coveting, being thankful, having personal virtues in personal works in evidence of salvation.
His Christian work is about conversion of other people individually and about private ministry, “telling people about Jesus” with urgency, partly because time is short and He may return anymoment.
In contrast there is the work of the good servant who traded with the mina and increased his master’s holdings.
In his mind the work of the church is a training camp or a preparation camp for struggle or fight.
The good servant who “invests” his mina is our example. He proposes that Christians trade on God’s word, that they invest, trade, enter risky activity with that Word, that they seek expansion of virtue as summarized by the commandments, that they see a social value in the Word of God.
That social value is in reform of courts, commerce, labor markets, science, justice, warfare, trade, education and schooling, monetary systems (real dollar vs. paper dollars, for example).
Gospel into tricky situations
In their mind, the work they have is to put the gospel into tricky and impossible positions. In the situation of the oppressed schoolteacher who realizes that she can do nothing but damage her charges, and who is on the verge of quitting. The gospel pushes her out and gets her to start a tutoring service.
The gospel is there to bring disparately invested capital back to the hometown, where money goes to investing in the widows ministry in the town, in electing local candidates with a godly outlook who believe the county commission should reflect godly interests and stop taking federal money, state subsidies and lead the government toward self-sustaining service. Local capital is not just for a dollar return for the investor, but brings societal and personal and spiritual gospel returns — one invests in a teenager from a disadvantaged family, getting his business going.
The gospel is there to end abuses of state law that lets people be arrested without a warrant and put into the jail on a bond, set by the magistrate by custom, with no ultimate constitutional warrant, as the Michael James case in Hamilton County illustrates. The gospel is there to help the local people bring an end to traffic stops, and to sheriff and trooper abuse of the local stretch of highway going through the county.
The man who trades on the gospel puts it into the areas where custom, tradition, usage and ignorance control, where great ones in the city or county are invested with things just as they are, in “the way we do things here,” as the register of deeds Marc Gravitt tells people when he refuses to record their important papers.
The Christian who believes in God will not shrink back and wait for the return of the Messiah.
He establishes liberty in the land. He fights for the oppressed. He demands justices of courts and establishes church courts to render equity where it is denied in the courts of men. The Christian trading upon the promises of God and the law of God defies tyrants, makes war with the ungodly, confident of God’s protection. He plans, builds, invests. He buys land and property when the market has collapsed in dread, or during an occupation, as did the prophet.