Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Gospel for this week is one of the more challenging passages in the Gospels. It seems to tie a reward to our activity. The servants who are entrusted with large sums of money make investments. Apparently they are good investments. They double their master’s money before he returns. We might assume from this, also, that he was really away for quite a long time.
What of the servant who simply hid his master’s money? Certainly the master received his money back, but with no gain. He condemns that servant as evil and lazy. He takes the money from him and banishes him.
First, we need to observe that this is not speaking of how one becomes a servant of the master. It doesn’t talk about earning our salvation in any way. Second, it doesn’t tell what would have happened if one of the servants had invested the money and, rather than doubling it, had only been able to return some 80% due to bad investments. We don’t know from this passage what the master’s opinion would be about that.
What do we know? We know that the evil and lazy servant knew his master’s habits. He knew that the master was always ready to make a profit. He knew that the master invested aggressively and did all he could to make gains. The servant, on the other hand, worked in the opposite way. He didn’t even choose a very safe investment. He simply hid the money away where it would probably be safe.
While I really hestiate to make too much application, I think some is appropriate. We know that God’s nature is to invest in this world. He already owns it all, but he pours out his life in many ways. He puts his resources to work for the good of his people. He even puts his resources to work for the good of those who are not his people. We have no idea how to measure the outcomes. They seem to defy logic. But they are pleasing to God. He gathers people into his kingdom. He gives them value. He makes them holy because he is holy. As we know God’s nature, whatever gifts He has given us, we can use them as He would use them. We won’t do it entirely well. But we don’t simply receive God’s gifts and let them sit, collecting dust. We invest in His kingdom.
That investment in Christ’s kingdom will look different from person to person and from time to time. It’s not very useful to try describing it. It is certainly not a good idea to prescribe specific actions for people. We know it’s related to doing good, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 2), evangelizing and making disciples (Matthew 28), and, in short, loving and serving our neighbors. But the individual details are going to be different for different people. We know our master. Let’s find out how to invest what He has given us.
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