To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. – Matthew 25:29-30
Nearing the end of his earthly life, Jesus taught the apostles with parables about the kingdom of heaven. In this story, he likened it to a group of stock brokers entrusted to invest their boss’ money and make a return on it. Two of the three doubled the profits of their boss’ money while the third went and sat on his boss’ money because he feared he would lose the money if he invested it. The first two were rewarded greatly with promotions to positions of greater responsibility. The other was fired and cast out into the streets.
What are we doing with the stocks (gifts) that God’s given us to use for the betterment of his kingdom? In the Pauline letter to Rome, the author states, In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. (Romans 12:6) He doesn’t give us these gifts for us to sit on them and do nothing. In this letter, there are examples of gifts and how to use them for the investment in and betterment of his kingdom.
1) prophecy – to prophesy with as much faith as God’s given a person;
2) service – to serve others well;
3) encouragement – to encourage others;
4) giving – to give generously;
5) leadership – to lead and take responsibility seriously;
6) showing kindness – to do so gladly; and
7) loving – to do so not in pretense but with honor and with genuine affection.
Paul goes on to say, Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. (Romans 12:11-17)
Those who do nothing with their gifts may be surprised in the end as to their fate. Truth is there are those (many) who exercise their gifts thinking they will inherit eternal life because they served God, but they lacked a personal relationship with God. These are the ones whom Jesus said would be turned out into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus went on to sum up this statement well when he said, A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. But what if the servant is evil and thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:45-51)
Father, thank you for opening my eyes to the truth about the profitable versus unprofitable servants. Those who do the will of the Father will be the ones who enter into the kingdom of heaven while those who think they have done good works for God and have earned their salvation or were afraid to do the work God has called them will be numbered among the eternally damned. How dreadful that will be! Father, have mercy upon me, as I begin to embark upon the journey which you have placed before me. As Abram and Isaac and Jacob stepped away from their homelands and journeyed to the calling set before them and had to trust in you for guidance and provision, so I, too, head out to embark upon the journey you’ve set before me. I will also trust in you and lean on you for provision and guidance. I await the days ahead. Thank you for revealing to me the truth of my existence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.