13 Watch therefore, for you don’t know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. 14 “For it is like a man, going into another country, who called his own servants, and entrusted his goods to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his own ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 Immediately he who received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 In the same way, he also who got the two gained another two. 18 But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 “Now after a long time the lord of those servants came, and reconciled accounts with them. 20 He who received the five talents came and brought another five talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents. Behold, I have gained another five talents besides them.’ 21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 “He also who got the two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents. Behold, I have gained another two talents besides them.’ 23 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 24 “He also who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Master, I knew you that you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter. 25 I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the earth. Behold, you have what is yours.’ 26 “But his lord answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant. You knew that I reap where I didn’t sow, and gather where I didn’t scatter. 27 You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest. 28 Take away therefore the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away. 30 Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
While I was driving today the Lord brought to my mind the parable of the talents, specifically, the wicked and slothful servant who received his talent and buried it in the earth because he knew his master to be a hard man.
The Lord showed me that this man is the one who has withdrawn himself from the harvest and thinks to escape the judgments of God by hiding himself away in the world because he is afraid of God. He thinks that he will simply guard what has been entrusted to him and return it to the Lord in-tact when He returns.
The Lord also showed me that this servant knows the judgments of God from afar off, but does not know Him; he has considered the severity of God, but not His goodness! He sees that the world is a dark and wicked place and is paralyzed by fear that he himself might offend God if he goes out into it. He also sees that to go out into the harvest would require much labor and great toil! He knows that it would be back-breaking and bloody work, and he is afraid of such difficulties! So he would much rather come home after work and stay at home, where it is comfortable, than go out and labor in His Father’s field!
One of the things that the Lord showed me is that this servant does not really know Him. Not really. He has observed the severity of God from afar off, and God’s judgments seem harsh to him, but he never came near to God to learn of Him as a son or daughter of God!
As A.W. Tozer taught, God is not “in parts”, that is to say, God is not divisible into distinct and independent parts. Everything God does is in agreement with everything that God is. When we think of God, we must think rightly of Him!
God has never needed to diminish any of His divine nature in order to exercise another- every time God has exercised His goodness it has been in complete harmony and agreement with His severity, and, so also, every time God has exercised His judgment and wrath, it has been in complete harmony and agreement with His love! Nothing God does is ever opposed to everything that He is; He is never constrained by “parts”, as we so often say, but acts wholly in unity with everything He is!
Because we are finite beings, God has shown Himself to us in ways that we can understand, but, in ways that are right. Therefore, when we are admonished to“consider the goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22), we’re expected to still think rightly of God, not as though His goodness were separate or opposed to His severity, but as they are in agreement together. As much as the Father is one with the Son, so also is the goodness of God one with His severity! And so we understand the Father through the Son.
But the wicked and slothful servant did not know God. He thought to avoid the severity of God by hiding away in the security of home, but, he wrongly understood the severity of God because he did not know God!
Likewise, today, there are many Christians who wrongly understand God and will stand before the Lord on His return and be called a “wicked and slothful servant”! Some because they were paralyzed by ungodly fear (Oh that we would be baptized with the true fear of God!) while others because they were paralyzed by apathy because they thought wrongly of the goodness of God and trampled under foot the sacrifice of Christ!
WICKED AND SLOTHFUL
This person’s slothfulness is quite evident- he knew what he had been given, but was afraid of the hard labor and toil that it would take to make it increase! And so it is hard labor and toil! If you are going to work in your Father’s harvest, you will endure great trials in this life- you will endure sleeplessness, financial cost, ridicule, laughter, hatred, reviling, persecution, and even threat to safety. You will because Jesus did, and we are not greater than He, are we?
Yet, notice that God did not say to the man, “you wicked and slothful servant, you didn’t return to me the same amount that the man with 5 times your gifting did!” God did not judge him in comparison with his co-laborers! This is one of great mistakes that we make today; we judge in comparison with others- “well he isn’t an evangelist like me” or, “he doesn’t preach”- we always want to compare ourselves among ourselves. God didn’t do that! He said, “I have sent your out as salt of the earth and a light atop the hill, why have you hid your light under a basket?”
Neither was the measure of the Lord’s gift to the servant burdensome or too great, for the Lord “gave to each one according to his ability”. The Lord knew the servant well, better than the servant knew his master, apparently. And gave to him what he knew he could handle! The Lord never gives a gift in greater measure than we could possibly be faithful with! The servant did not lack the skill to handle what he was given, he only lacked the heart to use it- and that because of his own slothfulness!
But, what about the man’s wickedness? What did he do that was wicked?
First, the Lord entrusted his good things to him. There is a measure of trust involved in this transaction, and the servant violated the Lord’s trust by hiding away the good that was given to him.
Likewise with us, when the Lord gives to us the many bountiful gifts that He entrusts to the Children of God, He gives these gifts to us with a measure of trust, expecting that we will use them properly in the service of His Kingdom. Our wickedness is quite evident when we misuse these gifts in all manner of ways: some use their gifts to the glory of their own name, others to the hurt of their fellow servants, and others are too lazy and slothful to ever put them to use at all! Here we are speaking of the Christian who has not put to use what Jesus has entrusted to him or her. The neglect of the heavenly gifts given to us by Christ Jesus our Lord is one of the great acts of wickedness found in the Church!
Secondly, the faithful servants went immediately and put their Lord’s money to good use, but the slothful servant went away, like the man “who sets his hand to the plow and looks back”; He went away to hide. He hides himself from the work he knows he should and could be doing. He hides himself from the labor that he knows would bring increase to his Lord’s gift. He hides himself from the toil he knows would profit his master. He hides himself away from all the difficulty and darkness that would confront him if he were to go out into the harvest, as he should and could. He has all the ability and means to his work and increase his Lord’s gift, but he hides away!
So many times I hear people say “if I only had this gift, then I could do great things”, but so very rarely do I hear anyone offering thanksgiving to God for the gifts they do have and putting them to good use! I wish it was the other way around, that it was rare to hear people making the excuse, and common to hear them thanking God for His gift and putting it to good use!
Thirdly, the wicked servant made excuse for his slothfulness and cast blame on God. His response is very like Adam’s response in form in the garden of Eden when Adam gives an account of himself to God. This wicked servant says, “I know you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter. Therefore, I was afraid!” He charged his slothfulness to his master’s account!
We know that our Father in Heaven provides our needs, yet, so often we offer up the excuse to God that He has not sufficiently provided for our needs, therefore, we cannot serve Him! This is not only wrong, but it charges God with a great sin of not sufficiently providing for His own children!
The wicked servant did not care who he was slinging guilt at so long as he himself did not bare the blame, even if he had to cast guilt on his Lord.
A FAITHFUL SERVANT IN THE HARVEST
The Lord of this servant was gone for a long time. He provided all that was necessary to his servants to go out and be profitable, even with little, and, likewise, the Lord our Savior and God, Jesus Christ, has made provision for us so that we will want for nothing to go out and make the increase.
Be careful that you do not betray the trust of the Lord by misusing what He has entrusted to you, nor hide yourself away from the trials and difficulties that you will face while on this earth. And be careful that you do not make excuses for your slothfulness or begin to sling blame on others for why you are not being faithful with what has been entrusted to you.
Each one of us has been called as servants to work in the Lord’s harvest, therefore, see to it that you work while it is still called “Today”. Some of us have been called as evangelists into the harvest, others are called as preachers, while others as those who give hospitality. Every one of us under-girds the Lord’s call to the great commission and actively answers that call ourselves. The faithful servant goes immediately to put to use what they have to make increase for the Kingdom of God.
Trust God to be faithful to keep you from stumbling as you go out into this dark and wicked world- set your hope firmly on Him to sustain you and keep you, and do not fear, as the wicked servant did, that you cannot go out to do His work, but look to your Shepherd who goes out before you, and follow Him! Then you shall not stumble nor be overtaken by the wolves!
May you all be filled with every grace of God and be strengthened in the joy of the Lord to run the race set before you with perseverance and faithfulness, amen!