In God We Trust…
is a phrase we are all very familiar with in America. It’s been a subject and topic of debate, it’s written on our money and embedded in the hearts and minds of people in our country. I’m not here to talk about our trust in God with our possessions at this time though. What I’d like to stretch our imagination about is how God has entrusted His possessions with us! As crazy as it may seem, this story vividly reveals that God has given each of us some very valuable possessions, goods, and opportunities to use for Him. Others may not choose you for something great but God certainly has! He trusts you!
It’s God’s Choice.
Who can tell God what to do? As is the case with this story Jesus tells, the master makes his choices and gives three of his servants some of his possessions. There are no certain qualifications that we hear of except that they were in the employment of the master; they were his servants. In John 15: 15-17 Jesus tells His disciples that He had chosen them, hand selected them, to go and bear fruit. The master in the story chooses these servants and expects them to do something good with what he gives them. In the same way, Jesus has chosen you and I and given us whatever it is we have. 1 Corinthians 4:7 clearly states:
7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
God chooses who gets what and just how much.
What we start with is up to God, however our actions affect what we end up with.
The master doesn’t go away leaving a long list of do’s and don’ts for the servants. He simply trusts them with his property and anticipates that they have been studying well along the way. He trusted they had been watching his life. The master had to believe that these servants knew how to wisely use what he was giving them. Unless they had been trained and educated, which would be unlikely for a servant, the master was relying upon their careful observance of his own life among them. He was giving them a chance to show what they had gleaned from simply living with him. Didn’t Jesus do the same thing? As He left the disciples, he told them to go and make disciples teaching them to “observe all things I have commanded you…” Did you catch that word “observe”?
Most principles about life are caught, not taught.
Through careful observance of the master’s life, the servants were well trained and taught how to do what they needed to do. Not only were they keen on how to do but they were also aware of his heart. Living with the master the servants knew what was important to him and what he valued. The master valued these servants and was giving them a chance to flourish. He was demonstrating he valued them more than his property.
Take some time and think about how God has bought you. Think about how you “owe” God. How does your view of servanthood maximize or minimize your view of God and serving Him?
How much do you think we get to choose to do? How chosen do you feel for certain tasks or jobs? Is there to something to which you feel called? Chosen? Reserved for?
How much time do you spend squabbling over what you’ve been given? How much time do you spend comparing yourself to someone else? How fair do you think God has been to you? Does God have to be fair? Why do you think you should have something more or different than what you have?
How much do you think God trusts you? How trustworthy do you see yourself?
Do you feel like God has a very specific way He wants certain things done? How much freedom do we have in using what God has given us?
That’s not fair!
We’ve all shouted it with great disdain as we see someone else getting more than us. As you know by now, life isn’t fair and to be honest, neither is God. God does not measure out gifts or blessings fairly. Does this mean God is not good? Not at all.
Do we ever cry and whine about such things! We live in a society where “fairness” reigns. We all feel like we deserve the same amount as the other guy. However, this is not the case in God’s Kingdom. God does not operate according to what is fair but His own pleasure. We get bent out of shape because we feel like we’re owed something or deserve something MORE. What we must realize from this passage is that the shares were unequal: one got 5, another 2, and another 1. Why is it so easy to find displeasure in what we have? We downplay and discourage others in their success and gifting all the while hating what we have because it doesn’t seem “fair”!
In this passage, God is conveying the fact that He does as He pleases. It is not going to seem fair to us but His ways are higher than ours. The sooner we can accept that, the sooner we can be about His business instead of our own.
As they were not equal in their amount, they were not equal in the distribution. The Master singled out a few men to entrust with his property. Surely he had other servants who were as “qualified” yet this time, the Master only selects three. How often do we feel “overlooked”? Left out? Wondering if God has anything for us? This was not an equal selection and there are going to be times when we may not be selected for a task. Everyone doesn’t get a chance to “lead” up front. But that doesn’t mean every person doesn’t need to lead their lives! Servants are people who serve and serve all the time.
By definition a servant is someone who serves, regardless of the position, acknowledgement or pay.
We live in a time where everyone thinks they should be paid for everything they do. People don’t want to serve others and even God unless they feel like they are going to get something out of it. Many years ago I heard a quote that has stuck with me: “Leadership is giving your best without being first”. If we are to be faithful servants of God, we must live well regardless of the position, acknowledgment or payment that comes our way. A servant is concerned about the Mater’s business not his own promotion or prestige or payment. We must accept that even if we cannot understand the choosing of God, that God knows what He is doing. We must trust Him and learn to trust His selections of people whom he places in charge for a season.
Furthermore, we need to quit grumbling and complaining about what little we have, whether position, gifts, or influence and become thankful for all we have been entrusted with and given. We need to stop degrading the leadership around us and begin praying for and supporting the people God has placed in charge. What would life be like for you if you were a leader surrounded by followers like yourself?
What things have you been given to use and to serve others with?
Are you using them for others and God’s Kingdom or for your own self-promotion?
How have you degraded or downplayed others out of a sense of jealousy or envy?
Are you angry over God’s choosing someone else instead of you?
Do you trust God’s providence and sovereignty in selections He has made?
If you feel like you want “more”, have you been faithful with your “little”?
How are you seeking God’s pleasure and taking delight in Him?
Kingdom come…? Or is the Kingdom here? This passage gives us a little insight to what kingdom life is both now and then. Jesus tells a great story about a man taking a journey and uses this story to bring two worlds together: Heaven and Kingdom on earth.Jesus is helping us to see how this life affects the next life. He is giving us eyes to see what He values and how we are to live now so we will be able to share in His joy then. Serving in God’s Kingdom means we must realize something very important:
A journey like the one told in this story would differ much from journeys of today. Of course they would give attention to much planning and preparation like us but communication and connection would be very limited once the journey began. The man “going away” would have carefully considered any choices he had to make and then entrust his property and work to people who were worthy of making decisions. Even though the man planned to come back, he would not be able to give them a time with certainty. The servants in this passage are given money and opportunity to show their values and understanding of the King in His absence. It was a time to see if they would go His way or separate ways. Is God’s way of doing things worlds apart from your way?
This is a passage where Jesus is referring to Himself. The man going away represents Jesus going to prepare a place for us in Heaven. There’s no telling when He may return but He’s sure to come again! Until then, He has entrusted certain things to us to administrate on His behalf while He is away. The question is what will you do with what you have been given?
How would you feel living under a King? What freedoms what you have or lose? How do you think your life would change?
Do you look at your life as being part of the Kingdom of God that is being built and developed now? Why or why not?
Jesus said the Kingdom of God was within us (Luke 17:21). What does this mean?
The man in the story gives his servants some of his property. What does this show us about their realtionship? What does this reveal to us about our relationship to and with God?
What property has God given you? How has God entrusted you with something of His?
How cool are you with God making all the rules?
Do you feel like He’s a good King? Can you trust Him like He’s trusted you? Can He really trust you?
If I could do anything for God, it would be…
Well, what’s your answer? What would you love to do for God? Do you think it’s possible that God may just want you to do that for Him?
What if God is thinking: “I am just waiting for (Your name here) to start…”
Is it crazy to think those kind of thoughts? Nah! Not really.
I am becoming more and more convinced that God is waiting on me far more than I am waiting on Him!
Let’s end April and move into May exploring Matthew 25: 14-28 and the parable of the talents. As you read through the passage, make some notes, take time to comment and reply on this site. Let’s explore together and see what God sparks in our hearts and imaginations. Maybe that’s all it will take for something to get started!
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank
Has God been doing anything new or different around you?
What passions, desires or drives seem to be heightened lately?
What awareness has God brought to your attention?
What gifts, abilities, talents, resources are not being fully used or maximized?
What theme, concept, idea, seems to be paramount in your life right now?
How does this passage deal or reveal anything to you about where you are in life and relationship to God and others right now?
“How far are you willing to go?” This was Jesus’ question to Phillip. He inquired about the place they could get food for everyone by asking “where shall we buy bread…”? Jesus comes to us with this same question often: How far are you willing to go in helping a person or group of people?
There is always a cost in serving and helping others.
The cost comes in various ways: lost sleep, travel to visit and encourage, personal financial expenditures, just to name a few. Yet Jesus expects us to go the “extra mile” in serving and giving. In this instance when He knew what He was going to do, He asked the question to see how far Phillip and the others would go. Would they go as far as He would in serving others and meeting their needs? So often our service for others is limited to us doing what we feel like doing when we feel like doing it. We call that “service“. We call that “volunteering”. But Jesus is looking for it to become a way of life for His disciples.
“For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.” John 13:15.
We tend to put limits on who we serve and with how much gusto we give in certain situations. If there is something to gain, we give a 110% but if we feel there’s gonna be little return, we back off and give 49%. This is not Jesus’ way!
“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42
Jesus makes it clear that our hospitality and service should go well beyond what the “world” would consider “reasonable”.
I’m not saying put your life in danger, I’m saying put your ego on the cross. I’m saying “let go of my ‘eggo’”. Yeah, we all have our limits but what if Jesus was pushing them? Would you push back or would you go the distance?How far are you willing to go?
“How far is that gonna go?” This was the question they asked Jesus when the boy gave all he had in service for the multitude. What the disciples failed to realize was who they were really hanging out with. They thought Jesus could do some cool tricks, pull off a few nifty miracles like changing water to wine but what was He gonna do with some fish and bread and close to 8,000 hungry people? This meal would barely cut it for the teenager who gave it to him much less the starving multitude!
Jesus has a way of stretching things, right? It’s not about how much there is but in whose hands it’s placed. Jesus was able to stretch those fish and bread farther than anyone could have ever imagined!
When we give our little to the Lord, He will bless it and stretch it and make it a blessing to all.
There are times when we can feel like our meager gifts, contributions and talents are nothing and yet in the hands of Christ it can go really, really far; farther than anyone could have dreamt.
However, there are times we can end up doubting Jesus has the ability to do something when we give him everything. What’s funny is that the disciples had nothing to give and they are questioning Jesus about what someone has given as though to say: “Jesus can you even really use this?” The answer was an emphatic “Yes! “Have the people sit down”.
Regardless of what you think the merit in your or another’s offering is the Lord will graciously receive anything given in faith. Faith is always blessed by the hands of Jesus.
6 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
How far does your faith go? Far enough to be a blessing to everyone around you? Far enough to be blessed by God?George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA