How many times have you heard this phrase, and the story of the talents? I ran across it a couple times this week in different blogs and devotional studies that I subscribe to. Matthew 25:14-30
It strikes me in few very different ways when I hear the story and today I thought I’d ramble on about it!
My first instinct is to fully agree with the author and to want to be faithful in the little mundane tasks of each day. I laugh, though, when I see them mention being a missionary in Africa as one of those big things! I am in Africa! Yet, there are still little, everyday things to be faithful about. There are still the important details that I need to pay attention to even when they aren’t the big, fun things I like to do. Yet I know that for most of us on the mission field, it started with little ministries in our home churches—nursery, deacons, helping to clean, set up, serving on an elder board, teaching Sunday School and ladies Bible studies, having missionaries stay in our homes, etc.…
My second instinct is to make an important point about this passage. The longer I live in this society where corruption is the norm, the greater this point becomes. Did any of those three servants steal? NO! Even that third guy that seems unfaithful was honest. He did not lose, or steal that talent that his master gave him. He just didn’t grow it. We often don’t think of this aspect. Are you growing the talent that God give you? Are you serving with your whole heart? Are you taking your spiritual gift and using it to serve the Body of Christ? Or are you hiding in the congregation not willing to get involved? God called that servant, “wicked and lazy” for not using the talent given him. I’ve see many with ministries in their church who do not prepare well, thinking they can just “wing it” – that’s being lazy and not using your talent. I’ve seen others afraid to serve in church or speak in public. I’ve seen talented people who will not train the next generation how to serve well. I’ve seen judgmental people who don’t do the work themselves but who are always criticizing how others serve. I’ve seen others who say they are too old and that the next generation should take over! Can you ever retire from serving the Lord? Maybe we move to other areas of ministry, but never stopping until we meet the Lord face to face!
My third instinct is to argue the point that today we know that we do not lose our salvation. The end of this parable has this unfaithful servant (who wasn’t a thief) sent to “darkness”. We know that today we are saved by Grace and not by works. We will not be sent to “hell” because of what we did or didn’t do. We will reach Heaven by the Grace of God who loved us and sent His son to die for our sins and to save us from the wrath to come. We are saved by faith alone. Once we are saved, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God, not even our laziness.
And finally, my thoughts turn to so many faithful saints whom I have known. They taught me Sunday School, they cleaned the church, they faithfully played piano week in and week out, they raised godly children who serve God, they faithfully gave offerings each week, they faithfully attended church, Bible studies mid-week, and prayer-meetings, they gave to the poor, they visited the sick and prisoners, they helped mow the lawn and shovel snow, they did the little things the needed to be done around the church without being asked or noticed, they witnessed to family and friends, they pray for missionaries daily, they take time each day to be in the Word themselves and to pray, they lead worship, they run sound, they sponsor kids for camp each summer, they lead crafts and VBS, … The list can go on and on.
For each of these I could put a name and a face. I can remember many of those that taught me in Sunday School and Youth Group and Jr. Church, many who helped out our family (I’m a pastor’s kid!). I saw them serve God with their lives and their talents. These people that I think of span many States and at least three continents where I have lived. The Body of Christ is vast and full of so many wonderful people. We have a responsibility to serve the Lord and to serve each other. Let us not be lazy about our service!