How ironic it is that a post about good stewardship would go up a day late. And I have no valid excuse for it. I should have drank coffee instead of taking that nap I took the other day. I should have worked on this post instead of watching two movies back-to-back. None of that matters. All that matters now is that I keep going.
Honest effort. That’s what God wants. When honest effort is cultivated and intentionally built upon, we naturally begin to put forth our best effort.
Matthew 25:14-30 tells the story of a master that entrusted large, but varying, sums of money to three of his servants prior to going on a long journey. The first two servants immediately went and put their money to work and doubled their investments. The third man, however, for fear of losing any of his master’s treasure, went and dug a hole in the ground and buried the money there.
After returning from the trip, the master called the three men unto him and asked for an account of what they had done with his money. Here is the rest of the story:
“The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master…you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
The second servant, after sharing that he had gained two bags of gold in addition to the two that were given him, received the same praise as the first.
“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’”
For clarity, I’d like to provide the Message translation of that last text:
“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.’”
And what was the master’s response to this seemingly well-meaning servant?
“…’You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
It is important to note that the master didn’t entrust his treasures to men that were strangers to him. He entrusted them to men that were familiar with his ways and knew his expectations. Men that knew enough to know what to do next.
The third man failed to invest the money not because he had no knowledge of how to do so but simply because he was afraid to take a risk. He was afraid to fail. And for that reason he decided not to try at all, thinking he’d get a pat on the back for not losing anything. I believe God would rather we lose everything in our trying than hold onto what we started with because we didn’t try at all. And the truth of the matter is, when we do God’s work and put forth effort on behalf of His Kingdom, we can’t lose it all. We are already equipped for the assignment given to us.
Also of important mention is that the master was gone for a long time so even though the third servant had dug a hole in the ground and placed the bag of gold there, he had enough time to change his mind and decide to do something productive with it in order to earn a return on his master’s investment. Just because we’ve been sitting on our gifts all this time doesn’t mean it’s too late to go dig them up out of the ground and do something with them. The Master hasn’t returned from his trip yet. Go retrieve the gift and invest it.
Some of us are praying for God to give us more and to take us higher in Him but we’ve not been faithful with that which has already been given to us. We’ve not proven that we can handle more. There are places God wants to take us in Him that we can’t even imagine but we must first be intentional about growing into the person that is capable of succeeding in that place. The person that has developed the discipline to flourish in that place.
While reaching others is the primary objective of Kingdom work, that is only one side of the coin. Kingdom building is also about what God is trying to do within us. It’s about the person He wants to shape us into. It’s about what He wants to reveal to us regarding what we are capable of if we just stretch a little further. I strongly believe that the individuals we will become when we finally get out of our own way and follow the leading of God will be well worth it.
Myles Munroe put it this way: “You must decide if you are going to rob the world or bless it with the rich, valuable, potent, untapped resources locked away within you.”
The world is waiting for us to release what we are carrying on the inside. Let us make the decision to stop holding back.