THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.