As we return from the holiday to continue our look into Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend, isn’t it appropriate that the subject is activity? Or the lack thereof.
We can label it motivation, initiative or the lack thereof as laziness, passivity or debauchery. What ever we want to label it, we are all so aware of it. We have the ability to either make things happen, or sit around and wait. We have all been there. We probably each have an example of good and bad in different situations.
Where sometimes we took action and we shouldn’t, or many where we did not take action, but we did and in the end, we question our decision.
By nature we are responders and initiators. We respond to invitations and push ourselves into life. Many times we have boundary problems because we lack initiative – the God give ability to propel ourselves into life (page 101).
How would you describe your personal initiative?
Do you think it is a strong character of yours? Or do you find it challenging?
What motivates you to “go”?
Life Lessons in Attempts
We learn boundaries by establishing them and then having them tested. In the chapter it is explained:
The best boundaries are formed when a child is pushing against the world naturally, and the outside world sets its limits on the child.
What is your take on these thoughts? Have you learned any boundary lessons by pushing against the world? Has it prevented you from having initiative?
Lesson with Minas
In this famous parable, the Lexham translation uses the term Minas, which was a Greek monetary unit equal to 100 drachmas. As we know, at the time of the new testament Greece was well established and there monetary system and value was significant. Those times have changed, and very substantially. Today 100 drachmas is equivalent to about 34 cents. This should not diminish from the story, but it might also reflect how thousands of years can devalue the importance of a message. Today a majority of the American country do not care to read or even benefit from such a story.
Some translations actually changed the title of the parable to reference talents rather than minas. In reference to a talent, it was equivalent to about 20 years of wages. We can hope that 20 years of wages was more than 34 cents, but it also lets us understand that the parable is not about the monetary value, but the actions of the servants.
The Parable of the Ten Minas
11 Now while they were listening to these things, he went on and told a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. 12 Therefore he said, “A certain nobleman traveled to a distant country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. 13 And summoning ten of his own slaves, he gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business until I come back.’ 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to be king over us!’ 15 And it happened that when he returned after receiving the kingdom, he ordered these slaves to whom he had given the money to be summoned to him, so that he could know what they had gained by trading. 16 So the first arrived, saying, ‘Sir, your mina has made ten minas more!’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been faithful in a very small thing, have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Sir, your mina has made five minas.’ 19 So he said to this one also, ‘And you be over five cities.’ 20 And another came, saying, ‘Sir, behold your mina, which I had put away for safekeeping in a piece of cloth. 21 For I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man—you withdraw what you did not deposit, and you reap what you did not sow!’ 22 He said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, wicked slave! You knew that I am a severe man, withdrawing what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. 23 And why did you not give my money to the bank, and I, when I returned, would have collected it with interest?’ 24 And to the bystanders he said, ‘Take away from him the mina and give it to the one who has the ten minas!’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Sir, he has ten minas.’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence!’ ” – Luke 19:11-27 LEB
Quite a dramatic translation. This section of Luke is in a time when the disciples were thinking that they were going to Jerusalem to over throw the nation and Jesus would be ruler over all. Jesus used this parable for a few reasons besides just the servants.
Beginning with the variety of servants/slaves, what did you gain from the parable?
What does the parable have to do with initiation/motivation?
Which of the 3 servants/slaves do you tend to be more like?
Have you ever been the third servant/slave? What thoughts and motivations were you making your decisions on?
Just for clarification, people who are passive are not inherently evil or bad people. But evil is an active force, and passivity can become an ally of evil by not pushing against it.
One of the most famous demonstrations of passivity is when the enemy tempted Eve with the fruit from the tree, and Adam was passive. He could have done something, but he didn’t.
What are some areas of your life where you are more passive than you think you should be? Have you had challenges with passivity?
There are other illustrations where individuals were told to do something and they did not follow through. Think about a variety of accounts in the bible where individuals were told to do something, and they didn’t. Use this as a motivation to listen to God and abide in faith that he will create a way for us to obey.
Effort of Learning
We learn by trying. When we attempt something and it does not go right, we can learn and grow personally. A great example of this that we all can relate to is learning to walk. Babies are notorious for failing, but we don’t hold that against them. They try, they fall, they try again. This is a personal growth area for every child.
God wants us to live a life here learning and maturing.
The sin God rebukes is not trying and failing, but failing to try.
Now don’t take this out of context and justify your evil desires. God does not want you to try everything, especially anything that will not glorify his Kingdom and name.
Relating to passivity, the book of Hebrews makes it clear what God thinks of our motivation:
38But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. – Hebrews 10:38-39 ESV
Can you see the parallel between the Parable of the Ten Minas and Hebrews 10? God makes it clear that we have to do our part. Passive behavior, “shrinking back”, is intolerable by God, and when we understand how destructive it is to the soul, we can see why God does not tolerate it. God wants us to preserve and protect our soul. That is the role of boundaries, they define and preserve our property and soul.
Let us remember that all believers are called to do their part. God has saved us for eternity, but while we are here we need to also do our part. In closing let’s reflect on Jesus’ little brother on this matter…
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded – James 4:6-8 ESV
Note all the verbs in the scripture that are directed to His people. God will come through and we will persevere, but if we partner with God and do our part, we will be even more powerful with God, for God than we can ever be on our own.
What are some areas of your life do you need to be definitive in creating and maintaining boundaries in your life? What areas of your life has God called you to tend?
Use this week to use good judgement and challenge yourself when you tend to want to be passive. Remember that a passive sheep is very vulnerable in this world…