In this parable, found in Matthew 25:14-29, Jesus rewards “risk-takers” and punishes those who safely risk nothing. I would like to take a look at the unfaithful servant, and what made him afraid to obey the master by taking risks. In this story, I see three fears and two character flaws that kept the third servant from investing his talent: LIVING DANGEROUSLY – THE FEARS OF THE UNFAITHFUL SERVANT
A TALENT = A CERTAIN WEIGHT OF SILVER – ABOUT $1,000 – Some say 20 years’ wages
In this parable, Jesus rewards “risk-takers” and punishes those who safely risk nothing. I would like to take a look at the unfaithful servant, and what made him afraid to obey the master by taking risks. In this story, I see three fears and two character flaws that kept the third servant from investing his talent:
1 HE WAS AFRAID OF FAILURE
We confuse “security” with “service” – We “keep the Gospel safe” – We want everything to be predictable and secure or the Kingdom of God might come crashing down around our heads. “What if people don’t like me? What if I am rejected? What if my project flops? ** Go ahead, ride the roller-coaster, try a jump off a high-dive, launch that ministry, step out in faith and use that gift God has given you, teach a class, try some new methods of ministry, or (gasp) change your order of worship! If you fail, so what?
“It may be a hard thing for an egg to become a bird; it is a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while it is still an egg. We are like eggs, today, and we either must be hatched, or go bad!” “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements, lock it up safe in the casket or the coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless-it will change. It will not be broken, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.” – Excerpted from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
2 HE WAS AFRAID THAT GOD WOULD BE HARD ON HIM
Do you ever carry around in the back of your mind this sense that if you really sell yourself out to God and do what His call is on your life that you are going to be miserable? I recently attended a quinceañera where the minister told the birthday girl, “Well, up to now you’ve had lots of fun and joy in your life, but now that you’re a lady, it’s time to serve Jesus.” What? I used to think that if I offered God my life He would make me do the things I hated. Do you ever feel like that sometimes? The servant didn’t realize that there is joy in doing the master’s will. How could the master be hard on us for simply doing His will? God’s perfect will brings “abundant life” and “joy in the Holy Spirit”. His “yoke is easy and his burden is light.” Our greatest fulfillment comes from doing His will.
3 HE WAS AFRAID OF CHANGE
This is a “biggie”! We like things just the way they are, thank you very much. Maybe “rocking the boat” and “shaking things up” and “risking a little” would lead to positive gains for the Kingdom of God, but it would radically infringe on my comfort zone and knock me out of my routine. I talked to a pastor a few months ago who said, “I like to make big, huge ruts, and just stay inside those ruts for years. No surprises for me, please!” Change hurts; change is uncomfortable, but we have got to be willing embrace change in order to obey the master.
4 HE WAS WICKED
The master calls him “wicked” simply because he didn’t follow orders. His “wickedness” consisted in being willfully disobedient to his master.
5 HE WAS LAZY
“This “obeying the master” and “taking risks” stuff just takes more effort than I am willing to give. I see sacrifice and difficulty ahead, and I just don’t need that kind of personal discomfort!” He is the type of Christian who makes just enough effort to “get by” while being as comfortable as possible. But God is calling us to “lay down our lives” and be real disciples. A real disciple of Jesus believes everything God says and lives like it. HOW ABOUT US? ARE WE FAITHFUL SERVANTS? ARE WE READY TO TAKE SOME RISKS FOR THE MASTER? STEP OUT! TAKE A CHANCE!
Those who hold onto their lives will lose them, but those who give up their lives to God’s adventures will find them! Let’s attempt big things for God!
E.M. Bounds, the great preacher of the Civil War era, said, “Attempt such great things for God that without His help, they are destined to fail.” Wouldn’t it be awesome to hear God’s voice say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness”?
The Lord is teaching me to say with the psalmist ‘I delight to do Thy will’ instead of the usual ‘ Well, I suppose it’s the Lord’s will so we’ll just have to go along with it.’ Oh the delerium of consciously being in the will of the Master…what joy! — Missionary Jim Elliot —
It may not be on the mountain’s height, or over the stormy sea; It may not be at the battle’s front my Lord will have need of me; But if by a still, small voice, He calls to paths I do not know, I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Yours, I’ll go where You want me to go. I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord, O’er mountain, or plain, or sea; I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord, I’ll be what You want me to be.
— Mary Brown —
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,but to serve,and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
William Willimon is the Campus Pastor at Duke University. One day he got a call from a very angry parent. The father was angry because his daughter, who was supposed to be headed for graduate school, had just decided to “throw it all away” (as the father described it), and go do mission work with the Presbyterians in Haiti.
“I hold you personally responsible for this,” he said. “She has a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering and now she’s going to dig ditches in Haiti. You are completely irresponsible to have encouraged her to do this. I hold you personally responsible.”
“Me? What have I done?” asked Willimon. “You. . . You ingratiated yourself with her. Filled her head with all that religion stuff. That’s why she’s doing this foolishness.”
“Now look, buster,” Willimon said as he struggled to keep his ministerial composure. “Weren’t you the one who told her about Jesus?” “Why, yes,” he said.
“And then, didn’t you read her Bible stories, take her to Sunday school, see that she was confirmed, and let her go with the Youth Group to ski in Vale?” “Well, yes, but…”
“Don’t but me.” Willimon said. “It’s your fault that she believed all that stuff, that she’s gone and thrown it all away on Jesus. Not mine. You’re the one who introduced her to Jesus. Not me.” “But all we ever wanted her to be was a Presbyterian,” the father said meekly. “Sorry. You’ve messed up and made a disciple.”