We need to stand near the cross and see a God that loved you so much he took hell on himself for you. We need to see that God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son. We need to see our God is not distant and disconnected but is with us always to the end of the age.
In the parable, the man, it says, entrusted his wealth to his servants. That is a good picture of God. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, but he lovingly shares so many blessings with us.
When we see God as a loving Father who has given us forgiveness, life and everything we have, how can we not be thankful? And thankfulness is the key to faithfulness.
Which leads to our second question. What does faithfulness look like? This is what we see in the parable: The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ It was the last race of the year, the conference championship. He had not done well all year but he was determined to finish near the front. About a third of the way into the race, he found himself in the back, one of the last runners. So, he decided that he was having a hard time breathing. He convinced himself he couldn’t finish, so he stopped. He gave up. He made excuses. He told people it was his allergies. But the reality was that if he couldn’t be the best, he didn’t do his best.
Think about in our lives how often we don’t do our best. Think about how, as parents, we sit our children in front of the TV to watch videos because we are too tired to play or spend time with them. Think about all the time we waste at our jobs, standing around talking, working at only half speed. Think about school. How often do you actually study as hard as you can? How much do you really pay attention in class? Or think about our church. How often don’t we stay in bed on Sunday morning and worship at “St. Pillow,” rather than come to church? No, we usually don’t give God our best. We tend to make excuses like that third servant.
Sometimes we look around at the gifts others have and we become jealous. Some people are better speakers than me, more creative, funny, tactful and thoughtful and we ask, “Why can’t I be more like them?” We envy the gifts of others. But envy is not thankfulness. Envy is really whining that says God didn’t give me the right gifts.
Thankfulness appreciates whatever gifts God has given me. No two of us have the same combination of talents. Jesus has allotted to each of us his or her own unique set of talents, each according to his ability. That’s an amazing statement. Jesus, the all-knowing Son of God, knows each of us so intimately and so well that he has given each of us exactly what we can handle. If he has not given me great wealth, it’s probably because I wouldn’t manage it well.
So, I ask again, what does faithfulness look like? “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ Their master gave them resources and they were to use these resources for the benefit of the master. That’s the simple and clear meaning of faithfulness. And it doesn’t matter how much he gives. We are to use whatever he gives faithfully.
Do your best at your job. Whether you are the supervisor or the lowest on the totem pole, whether you are managing a corporation or managing activities at your home, whether you care for newborn infants as a nurse or babysit a three-year-old to earn a little money, faithfully give God your best. If your job is cleaning the grills at McDonald’s, show God how much you love him by making them the cleanest grills around. Don’t settle for less than your best. Be the best mother and wife you can be. Be the best husband and father you can be. Be the best friend you can be. God doesn’t expect you to be the best at anything. All he wants is for you to faithfully do your best.
Now, the last question we need to ask ourselves: What do you want to remember about your life? Do you want to look back at how well you buried your gifts? When I graduated from the Seminary, my uncle in Wyoming made me a beautiful hunting knife using a deer antler as the handle. I told him later that I didn’t take it hunting because I didn’t want anything to happen to it. He was upset by that. He made it for me to use, not to just sit there.
God has given us everything we have, not just to sit there or for our own selifh purposes, but for the good of the kingdom of God. People sometimes ask me why I became a pastor. At one time I was accepted into the forestry program at Colorado State University, so why did I become a pastor? Bottom line, I didn’t want my life to be a waste. I didn’t want it to be about me enjoying myself in the woods. I didn’t want it to be about making money. I wanted my life to serve a higher purpose.
And the most amazing thing to me is that some day Jesus would say to me – me, this undeserving, sinful person – that he would say to me, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!
May thankfulness for the salvation we have in Christ lead us to faithfulness with all the blessings God has given. And may all of us look forward to that eternal welcome, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!