It is always easiest to look at Christianity in the abstract. Making impersonal judgments about who a Christian is or how a Christian should act is a safe exercise that leaves one clinically detached from personal liability. At the same time, it can be an effective way to communicate the principles of righteousness. Jesus used parables to convincingly and authoritatively teach us what He expects of us. Consider, for example, the parable of the faithful servants in Mt. 25:14-30.The servants of the parable represent those who are in the kingdom (25:1), and the master obviously represents the Father. He gave each of his servants a certain amount of his wealth. It was his wealth, rather than theirs. Lesson: Our talents, abilities, and wealth are not and never were ours – God gives them to us.
He gave each servant differing amounts of his wealth. They were not given equal shares, nor was the distribution done randomly, but each received “according to his ability” (v. 14). Lesson: God knows our abilities and apportions His wealth accordingly. We don’t all get to have five talents, which some might think is unfair. We do get to have what God knows we can manage, which is absolutely fair. That He gives us such blessings at all, no matter the size of the portion, is proof that He knows we can succeed!
He gave each servant time and opportunity, without interference. The overprotective parent wants to stay attached to their grown child, and they insert themselves in that child’s every decision. God doesn’t treat us that way. The text says he “entrusted” his talents to these select servants. Yet it is clearly implied in the text that each of them knew the master had certain expectations and were not surprised that he eventually called them in to give an account. Lesson: The New Testament is given to us to explain everything that the Lord expects of us. From the moment we became Christians, we knew that He has expectations.
The two servants who doubled their master’s wealth were appropriately rewarded and entrusted with even more. Lesson: God’s expectations are not beyond reach. The faithful can and will produce more for the Lord.
The servant who buried his master’s wealth and then returned it upon demand was punished for wickedness and laziness. Yet no mention is made of wicked behavior. Lesson: We don’t have to actively engage in immorality of any kind to be wicked. We only have to be uncommitted!
The servant admitted his fear as justification for not risking his master’s money. In one sense that fear was justified, he knew his master not only had expectations but that he would also punish failure. However, his paralyzing fear was in fact unjustified, for he assumed failure without effort. To do so assumes that God doesn’t know our abilities after all. To do so also assumes God’s tasks for us are sometimes impossible. Yet the success of the other servants demonstrates just the opposite. Lesson: It is sometimes easier for me to dismiss the Lord’s expectations as unreasonable and unattainable. But Scripture never describes the efforts of the faithful as unsuccessful. We cannot fail in our responsibilities if we strive to meet them (1 Jn. 4:4), and we can never succeed if we assume we can’t.
Christianity is personal. God has blessed me, and God has given me everything I need to succeed (Eph. 1:3). Winning faith demands that I accept and trust the One who has entrusted me.
Keep studying! DC Brown ©2013