“And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds (minas), and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” - Luke 19:13 It is inevitable that there is a comparison of the “minas” in Luke 19:12ff with the “talents” in Matthew 25:14ff. The minas are a small amount compared with the talents which are huge amounts.
A bible commentator once said: “The small sum astonishes us … compare, on the other hand, the talents. In Matthew, the Lord transfers to his servant his whole property; here [in Luke] he has only devoted a definite sum of money…”
The different values of the minas and talents should not be of concern to us. Jesus’ purpose in telling these parables is to teach us that the “masters” in the parables are putting his servants to the proof – to test their faithfulness in handling his wealth. In the parable in Luke, the smallness of the amount corresponds to what is so carefully emphasized in the story, namely, the relation of faithfulness in the least to its great recompense: “… because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities” (Luke 19:17).
Jesus’ parable of the pounds/minas indicated to His disciples that they should not wait idly for the Lord’s return but that they should stay busy, using whatever abilities and opportunities they had in the Lord’s service until His return.
The word “occupy” in Luke 19:13 is a unique word in the New Testament, it means be “pragmatic”, be “practical”. In other words, do something with the resources that had been committed to them. There is another related word, also unique, occurring only one time, in 2 Timothy 2:4: “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” (ESV) Here the word “civilian pursuits” is translated from the Greek word meaning “pragmatic affairs of civilian or business life”. Paul is cautioning those who would be “good soldiers of Jesus Christ” against becoming involved in worldly affairs.
At first, there seems to be a contradiction. Jesus says to stay busy with the practical affairs of life until He returns. Paul says not to get involved with pragmatic things.
There is no real contradiction, of course, if motivation is considered. Whatever may be our vocation in life, as led by the Lord, we are to perform that job and all the other daily responsibilities of life diligently and faithfully, for His sake.
If we allow the affairs or pursuits of the world to become an end in themselves, or use them for other purposes other than for God’s, then we have, indeed, become tangled up in the affairs of this life, and that will displease Him.
God’s desire is for us to be diligent in whatever He has called us to do until He comes. We are to be sure that we are diligent for Him and not for ourselves.
Pastor Robert Chew