Matthew 25:14-30 The Message (MSG)
14-18 “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.
19-21 “After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
22-23 “The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’
26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.
28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’
Many of us are familiar with this parable from the Gospel of Matthew. I’ve heard this parable taught numerous times regarding being a good steward of the money or material possessions God entrusts to you. I’ve also heard it used as an illustration for using the spiritual gifts or talents you’ve been given and sharing those with others. However, in the last few days, I have noticed some things about this story that I had never seen or heard before and that have left a lasting impression on me.
Many years ago, as a newly married graduate student, I sat in the back of a sanctuary during a weeknight revival service and felt the call of God on my life to do ministry. I didn’t hear an audible voice that spoke out loud, but as a child of God I know His voice and it was very clear to me that night. I had no idea what that was supposed to look like, or even what it meant at that point, but I am so sure of that being a pivotal moment in my life that I can visualize exactly where I was sitting and I can still hear the sounds in the room over 25 years later. I left that church service sure that God wanted me to be available to Him in some kind of ministry work in the future.
Several years later, as a young adult woman with two small children, I had a similar experience while attending a women’s event in a massive auditorium. As I listened to a well-known female Bible teacher share her heart and seek to lead each person in the room to Jesus, I again felt a very real voice speak to my heart and say, “you will do something like this one day.” I immediately dismissed it and thought, “yeah, right”, but have never really gotten over the feeling I had in that moment. These are just two examples over almost three decades of opportunities God has given me to walk into His will and to step out and risk something in order to allow Him to fulfill my dreams.
At this point, you are probably asking the same question I ask myself all the time, “so, what happened? Why aren’t you doing or why haven’t you done the things you feel so certain God has placed on your heart?” Sadly, the answer to those questions can be summed up in the statement of the third servant in the parable, “Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you…” And there it is…..I was AFRAID I might disappoint.
Fear has been such a huge part of my life over the years. Not fear of things like criminals or spiders or snakes or even illness….but so much fear of disappointing others and even greater fear of disappointing God. I can recall time and again where I sensed God calling me to step out in faith and do something for His kingdom only to recoil moments later in fear. I’ve been afraid of failing and then fearing I would leave some sort of blemish on the reputation of God if I messed it all up in some way. I’ve been afraid of rejection or of not knowing enough or of leading others astray. I’ve been afraid of leaving the security of a safe job that I feel like I do fairly well with a steady paycheck and summers and holidays off. I’ve been afraid of Satan coming after me or my family if I went too far out on a limb for the sake of the Gospel. Yet in my attempt to not disappoint, I can’t help but wonder if God is looking at my life and saying, “get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb.”
I’m terrified right now. It feels risky for me to even share these dreams with you after all these years. But, I don’t believe that I am the only one who has ever dreamed of doing something or trying something or risking something only instead to stay safely on the sidelines as opposed to getting in to the game. If that resonates with you, what I’d like to say to you is the thing God is so graciously revealing to me in recent days…..it’s never too late to step into His will.
Within the past two days, I heard two different pastors say the same thing in different ways. First, my pastor, Dr. Larry Robertson said in his sermon this week, “God does not waste one single second of our lives.” Not one second….even the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, or years of being afraid to do what He’s asking. None of it is ever wasted. Then on my favorite podcast I heard Jonathan Pokluda, a pastor in Dallas say, “You can’t wiff on the will of God.” In other words, using a baseball metaphor (which you KNOW I love), God will not let you strike out when it comes to His will. His will is going to be accomplished, always. But, if we always “play it safe” we may miss out on being the one to get to hit the walk off home run in the bottom of the 9th inning of a tied ball game. To stay with the sports theme, you miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. God has not called us to playing it safe.
There is a reason that some version of “do not be afraid” is used hundreds of times in the Bible. We have a real enemy that uses fear as a very effective tool to keep us from resting in the will of God. But, let’s not forget to look at the response that was given to both servants who took the risk and invested the money. “Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’” In the New American Standard Bible version it reads, “enter into the joy of your Master.”
Lastly, notice in verses 14-18 that the money was delegated to each man “depending on his abilities.” God is your creator, he knows far more than you do about what your abilities are or in many cases COULD BE. Are you willing to trust that if your creator plants a dream in your heart that He also knows what abilities you have to fulfill it? I have no idea what it is that you are afraid of doing or trying in your own life, but I do know that for me, I am ready to take more risks. Let’s do it together!
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4