Read Matthew 25:14-30 …
A couple of weeks ago the bulletin article spoke about the Greek word dulos which is translated variously as slave, bondservant, or servant. That article spoke to the fact that Christians are a dulos by the fact that one’s redemption came at a price (1 Cor. 6:20), and that payment was the blood shed by Christ on our behalf (1 Pet. 1:18-19). The question to be answered now is what does that mean to the contemporary Christian? Perhaps by looking at the Parable of the Talents some lessons may be gleaned.
Remember that parable? A man is going away on a journey and entrusts his slaves with various amounts of money – one five talents, one two talents and one one talent. The first two put the money to work and in the end double their holdings, but the third buried his master’s money and only returned what was given. When the master returned from the journey the first two slaves were generously rewarded for their efforts, but the last slave was condemned for not seeking to improve his master’s holdings.
It should be noted that the master gave to each slave “according to his ability” (Matt. 25:15). The slaves were certainly expected to use their abilities to improve what they were given, but they were not allowed to use their abilities in a manner inconsistent with their master’s wishes. They were, after all, slaves. The “rights” of a slave only extend as far as a master allows. The last slave was condemned for not putting his master’s goods to work; Was it the slave’s “right” to opt to secure the master’s wealth? In this case, although it was the safe course, although it ensured safe return for what was given, the slave did not have the “right” not to act.
Also, the slaves were expected to act in the best interest of their master for as long as their master was on the journey. The wider context of this parable is related to Jesus speaking about how one is to wait for the return of The Master. There is nothing in the parable about how long those slaves worked. There is nothing about those slaves that would indicate that they were slowed in their work by age or disposition. The slaves were expected to be busy. If anything, the two prosperous slaves lived up to the words of Luke, “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’” (17:10).
Finally, if anything should stick out about the Parable of the Talents, surely it should be this – when a servant works for the betterment of his master, they both come out better. In common language, a rising tide lifts all boats. The two servants that brought an increase received a greater blessing for their efforts, they were brought into the “joy” of their master (Matt. 25:21, 23). It also seems obvious that the blessings the two servants received were not related to the amount they returned, but to the fact that they worked within the will of the master.
Those three points apply to the contemporary as much as they applied when Jesus spoke them. What “rights” do Christians have that were not given them? Simply because our society gives a right or says an action is just does not mean that same right or action is acceptable in the eyes of God. Does a Christian have the option to “retire” from the work given us? Surely the answer must be no, Christians are laborers in the fields until the call to return home is given – however long that may be. Remember, what one does in the service of God brings blessings that outstrip the material goods with which one has been given to work. So … it’s time to get busy.