The one who had been entrusted with 1000 gold coins came to his master and said, “Look, sir, I know that you are a hard man to please and you’re a shrewd and ruthless businessman who grows rich on the backs of others. I was afraid of you, so I went and hid your money and buried it in the ground. But here it is. Take it, it’s yours.” Matthew 25:24-25
A good friend of mine in Russia owed me money and brought it to me one morning at the hotel where I was staying in St. Petersburg. He pulled out a plastic bag encrusted in mud. From the bag, he counted 20 $100 bills for the 2000 dollars he owed.
Evidently, the plastic had a hole because the dollars were dirty and moldy. He explained, “I got the money from my father; he had to dig it up from his garden.” My friend wasn’t apologizing as he thought it was natural to bury money.
I asked, “What happened to this money?” He smiled, “In Russia, we don’t trust the banks. When we get rubles, we exchange them for dollars and bury them. That way it is safe until we need it.”
For years, I read the Parable of the Talents about one servant receiving 5000 gold coins and investing them with a good return, another receiving 2000 gold coins with investment for a good return, and the last servant getting 1000 gold coins and, fearing the loss of his master’s money, buried it in a field.
Reading this parable, I kept thinking, “This is strange, why would he bury the talents?” My consideration is that this must be an isolated incident. But while it makes a nice parable, it is not the way things are done.
From my Russian friend and experiences with other pastors, this is a common practice in other countries.
Do not sneak into my yard in the middle of the night and start digging. I don’t have money buried there. We do have a graveyard for my wife and daughter’s pet cats. I am sure that you would not want to dig in that location.
Most Americans use banks.
Many Americans do violate the principle that Jesus taught in the Parable of the Talents. We should invest our money in His Kingdom. How do we know if we are burying our treasure?
First: You do not consider how to invest your money in the Kingdom.
Second: You save money, believing it is yours. You worked hard; you deserve it.
Third: You do what others do.
Let us consider retirement. We save for the future; we might move to a more desired state or we might downsize. When we die, our money is left in both a house and a 401K. Did the money go for the Kingdom? Did you invest justified by “I earned it” or “lots of other people did this?”
I am not judging; I’m asking myself the same questions. I don’t want to meet my Savior, having arrived in heaven, with my treasure back on earth buried in a field.
Let’s consider college. Perhaps money has been saved; probably not, as few parents can save tens of thousands of dollars for each child’s college education. Money is borrowed; everybody does this. Perhaps the government will forgive college debt, or you spend many years working to paying off this debt. Is this Kingdom value? Were tens of thousands of borrowed dollars good stewardship?
I’m not judging, I’m asking questions. All of us will meet Jesus. Will we be comfortable when the Lord reviews the investments of our time, talent, and treasure?
Treasure buried in a field. Yes or no?
In our desire for security, retirement, and education, did we ask God what He wants? Did we spend our treasure according to the wide or narrow path? Did we get joy from investing in the Kingdom?
Scripture teaches that treasure left behind, or spent on convenience or pleasure, has no eternal value.
It is like burying treasure in a field.