|Sonoran Desert outside Tucson|
"I tell you,to everyone who has, more will be given,but from the one who has not,even what he has will be taken away." Luke 19:26Sometimes grandmothers say enigmatic things with a confident smile that she and everyone who counts knows what she means. It often leaves grandchildren in the dark, afraid to ask "what do you mean?" Left to their own devices, they may talk among themselves about it, perhaps ask whichever parent sprang from that oracle, or just as likely forget trying to figure out exactly what it means even though it will be repeated down through the generations. This saying of Jesus reminds me of that situation.
This saying comes after the parable about the servants who were given gold coins while their master is away. he tells them to trade and multiply. When he returns, two who did multiply the amount are rewarded while the one who simply kept his one coin safe lost that coin to the one who had increased his coins the most. In that context, what is the point of this, especially for me in the here and now?
Like many of Grandma's sayings, there is something left out. If I insert some words, does it make more sense? "I tell you, to everyone to has [committed to living the way of grace], more [grace] will be given, but from the one who has not [committed to living the way of grace], even what [grace] he has will be taken way." The thing about the servants who increased their amounts is that they did it through "trade." In other words, they took risks with the investment and it worked. The one who tried to play it safe and took no risks lost everything.
Here is another translation from The Message:
“He said, ‘That’s what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag.'"The message is uncomfortably clear for me. If I just try to hang on to the faith and grace I think I have, I lose. If I place everything at risk in my day to day life in whatever way is possible for me, I win.
I will leave the discussion of Jesus' apparent view that this is a zero sum game to another time.