I’m new to Indiana.
After spending 35 years deeply embedded in the ways of Wyoming, its people, and its culture, I have undertaken a change that is awakening me to things I had never considered before.
Beans, for example.
There is a place just on the edge of Evansville, our new home, that offers some outstanding cycling opportunities. (I love cycling. It has been an integral part of my life for … ever.) The downside to this place is that I have to drive to it, as getting there on my bicycle would be a risky adventure due to lots of traffic between home and there.
Instead, I put my bike in the back of the car and drive to a dead-end road where I park and begin my ride.
This is not about cycling, though. It’s about beans.
The field across from my parking spot is, like much of Indiana, covered in beans. Oceans of beans.
Throughout the summer, I have been watching these beans grow. In the early summer, they were just little green stems shooting up from the rich, black soil. This time of year, they are starting to show their signs of readiness for harvesting, as their leaves change from bright green to yellow, eventually getting that fall brown color. Here’s a short video on bean harvesting:
Beans get planted with the anticipation they will grow to yield an abundant crop, providing a return for the farmer’s labors.
Stewardship works the same way. God gives us everything we have, His gifts to us, the seeds to eternal life. We have to plant them, care for them, and grow them so that we might reap an abundant harvest to return to Him.
Imagine a farmer who purchases seeds to grow his beans, but is so consumed with fear of the vagaries of farming – too much rain, too little rain, too cold, too hot, insects, problems with machinery – that he never plants the seeds. Instead, he hides them in his barn where no harm will come to them.
Now, I am no farmer, but even I know if we don’t plant the seeds we have, nothing will grow and there will be no return on our investment.
The same with the gifts God has given us. He commands us to take those gifts, use them in His glory, and return them with increase. If we hide those gifts, storing them in the dark out of fear or laziness rather than growing them, the outlook for our eternity does not look so good.
Jesus explains this pretty clearly when he shares the Parable of the Talents with His disciples. In this familiar story, the master goes away and gives three of his servants some money, telling them to take care of it. Upon his return, the master receives back from two of the servants the original investment with return, while the third one gave back only the original amount:
“It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.
After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more. His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’
[Then] the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Mt25: 24-30
When I reach the gates of heaven, the last thing I want to hear is “You wicked, lazy servant!”
Let’s be like the bean farmer across from my parking spot. Plant, care for, grow, harvest.
“Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.”