The Pragmatic Life

“And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” (Luke 19:13)

This “parable of the pounds” indicated to His disciples that they should not wait idly for the second coming of Christ, thinking “that the kingdom of God should immediately appear” (Luke 19:11), but that they should stay busy, using whatever abilities and opportunities they had in the Lord’s service until His return. The word “occupy” is an unusual word, the Greek pragmatenomai, from which we derive our modern word “pragmatic,” meaning “practical,” and it only occurs this one time in the New Testament.

There is another related word, however, also occurring only one time, in 2 Timothy 2:4: “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” Here the word “affairs” is the Greek pragmateia, and Paul is cautioning those who would be “good soldiers of Jesus Christ” against becoming involved in the pragmatic affairs of civilian or business life, if they would really be pleasing to their commanding officer.

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 these things to become an end in themselves, however, or use them for other purposes than for His glory, then we have, indeed, become tangled up in the affairs of this life, and this displeases Him. He desires that we be diligent in whatever He has called us to do until He comes, but to be sure it is for Him, not for ourselves. HMM

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