Sunday, November 13, 2011

Triple threat

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 25:14-30

TO CHEW ON: "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'" Matthew 25:21, 23.

Aren't the words of the lord to his multi-talented servants in this story exactly what we want to hear when we meet Jesus face to face someday? On the other hand, the harsh words of the master for the one-talent servant are words we hope never to hear. Let's look closely at that servant to see the attitudes and actions of which he was guilty so we can avoid them.

The one-talent servant hid his talent (a denomination of money calculated by weight) in the ground (Matthew 25:25). It's almost as if he was ashamed of it. Could it be that it was the result of comparison? Perhaps he looked at the way his master entrusted him with only one talent while the others got two and five, and was ashamed.

With his own mouth he confessed fear (Matthew 25:25). But this angst resulted in the master visiting on him the very harshness he was afraid of when his attitude paralyzed him into inaction.

The master uncovered another problem: laziness. That third servant seemingly didn't want to be bothered with all the work it took to make a profit from his one talent.

We need to beware of these three pitfalls as we steward our abilities and opportunities. Comparison is deadly to wise stewardship. Personally, God has given me a standard rhetorical question to ask myself whenever I am in comparison mode (wondering why I don't have this person's abilities, that one's successes and another's opportunities): "Did I ask you to do that?" But God will hold me responsible for times I "buried my talent in the ground" when I could have invested it.

Fear is the opposite of faith. A verse I love to quote to myself when I face the fear of failure, rejection and wasted effort is "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days" - Ecclesiastes 11:1.

Laziness is a subtle but insidious temptation that comes in words like: 'You shouldn't have to do all this work to be successful,' or 'now that you've lived a certain number of years, it's time to take things easy.' How different from the attitude of someone like Paul: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" - 2 Timothy 4:7.

As good steward of all God has given us, let's be on guard against comparison, fear, and laziness.

PRAYER: Dear God, someday I want to hear your "Well done, good and faithful servant." Help me to recognize and overcome the temptation to compare myself to others, to live paralyzed by fear and to loll about in laziness Amen.

MORE: Stewardship of money
"Godfrey Davis, who wrote a biography of the Duke of Wellington, said, 'I found an old account ledger that showed how the Duke spent his money. It was a far better clue to what he thought was really important than the reading of his letters or speeches.'

How we handle money reveals much about our priorities."
- Haddon W. Robinson, in "Money Matters," Our Daily Bread Devotions.

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