FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
August 30, 2014
Today’s gospel: Matthew 25:14-30
We are all servants of our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. He has gone “on a journey” (v.14a), that is, has returned to heaven but will be back again. In the meantime, he has entrusted his work to us. He “called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.” (v.14b). This is important. God has entrusted his work to His people. He has made Himself dependent on His human instruments. This for us is a responsibility and privilege like no other.
In entrusting his work to us, Jesus gives us talents. “To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–to each according to his ability.” (v.15a). Here are the realities. One, each is given some talent. So each one is responsible for part of the work. Two, it is God who gives out the talents, in whatever measure He decides. Thus one who has less is not necessarily lesser in value than one who has more. They just have different talents, and thus different roles to play.
Now the Master will be back. That is the second coming of Jesus, at the end of time. “After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.” (v.19). Jesus has been away “a long time,” for many, all of their lifetimes, but he will be back. Then he will settle accounts, that is, he will hold us accountable for whatever talent was entrusted to us.
To those who trade with their talents and double the Master’s investment, Jesus will be grateful and joyful. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come, share your master’s joy.” (v.21a,c). It is the same reaction with regard to the second servant who yielded less, because he was entrusted with less. Still, just as with the first servant, he doubled his Master’s investment. But the third servant, who did not use his talent, was condemned by the Master. His master tells him, “You wicked, lazy servant!” (v.26a). He not only was lazy, he was wicked. Why? By not being with Jesus, he was against him. By not gathering, he was scattering. By not working for the kingdom, he was in effect supporting the kingdom of darkness. Thus it is not enough for us just to avoid evil in the world, but we need to be actively working for good. If not, we commit the sin of omission, in effect doing evil.
What must we know about our Master? First, he is “a demanding person” (v.24b). His work is so important, having to do with souls that he has already saved on the cross, that he demands, that is, he commands and expects us to do our share in proclaiming that salvation. Second, he is “harvesting where (he) did not plant and gathering where (he) did not scatter” (v.24c). Jesus already did the groundwork. Now it is our turn. We are the ones to plant, but the Lord is the one to benefit from our work, as he intends. But if we do not do our part, then the Lord will have nothing to harvest or gather.
Can we blame Jesus for condemning the non-performing servant? His whole ministry is about saving souls. And he has entrusted this work to us. If we do not do this work, then we stand condemned, as we would justly deserve. Be aware that the punishment could be the utmost, losing heaven and going to hell. “And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” (v.30). That is how important this work of the Kingdom is.
Now the final principle: “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.” (v.29). God gives each one talents. If we use them, we gain more. If we do not, we lose them. If we use them, we will grow rich in grace, in strength, in faithfulness to the call, and in the eternal riches we accumulate in heaven. If we do not, we lose everything.
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