Last week I wrote the blog Can I do any Work I want as Service for Jesus? about Colossians 3,23. This passage is often used by Christians to approve the job they have. They claim that they do this job as a service to Jesus, but they actually just want to have that job. Or they want to be successful and use this passage to add spiritual value to their desire. In this last blog I explained why this is not what this passage is about.
I also mentioned that the Parable of the Bags of Gold from Matthew 25,14-30 is used to approve their hard work and success in this world as well. Christians often point to this passage to claim they should use their gifts well to obey Jesus. I don’t think it is a sin to be gifted and use your gifts. However, I am sure that Jesus didn’t tell this parable to make us strive to use our gifts to be successful in this world.
Jesus told this parable to explain how it will be when he returns from heaven. Jesus is telling about his return in Matthew 24 and in the first verses of Matthew 25 Jesus is telling a parable about the Kingdom of God at the time of Jesus’ return. Then he continues as follows:
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. … After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.” ~ Matthew 25,14-15 & 25,19 ~
What can we learn from this parable so far? It is not hard to understand that the master in the parable is a reference to Jesus himself. This means that Jesus is going away, but also will return. Jesus went away to the heaven at his ascension and will return at the last day. While the master is away, he entrust his servants with something. The master’s servants are followers of Jesus, but what does he entrust to them? It will be more clear when we read part of a comparable story in Luke 19:
While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. He said, “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.” ~ Luke 19,11-15 ~
Here Jesus tells a parable to clarify that he will not be made king in Jerusalem at once. We learn from this parable that Jesus went away to be made king. This makes sense, because Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world (see: John 18,36). It is also mentioned that not everyone accepts the king. This is a reference to unbelievers, who do not accept Jesus as Lord. Believers are called servants in this parable as well. There is a slight difference with the parable in Matthew 25. Instead of giving each one to their ability, the king in Luke 19 gives each servant a mina. Despite this difference, the servants still have to take responsibility of what they did with what was entrusted to them.
What does Jesus entrust to Christians while he is away? It is unlikely that it is a certain amount of the gift to be successful in this world. Jesus makes it clear to us before he dies:
“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” ~ John 14,10-14 ~
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” ~ John 16,26-27 ~
So Jesus is going to the Father and he entrusts his followers with the Holy Spirit and the task to testify about him. Everyone who is born again receives the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit working through us, testifies about Jesus. The bags of gold are the responsibilities given to us by Jesus. This is the responsibility of to whom you can testify about Jesus. Like Paul writes to the Galatians:
On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. ~ Galatians 2,7-8 ~
We are not all entrusted with the same responsibility, but no one can excuse himself from testifying about Jesus. Both parables in Matthew 25,14-30 and Luke 19,11-27 tell of two servants who gained a lot with what was given to them and of one servant who hided what was given to him. The first two servants are rewarded for their faithfulness, but the last is punished. (See Matthew 25,16-18 & 25,20-27; Luke 19,16-23.) The servants are followers of Jesus and not the unbelievers, so this tells us about believers who are rewarded and punished according to their faithfulness with what was entrusted to them by Jesus.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. ~ John 15,16 ~
The question for you is not: How can I use the gifts God gave to me to be successful in this world? The question for your life should be: To whom has God called me to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ and proclaim the Kingdom of God with the power of the Holy Spirit? If you need inspiration, you can watch the following video:
While Jesus is away and we long for his return, let us serve him with our whole life and let the power of the Holy Spirit flow through us.
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” ~ Revelation 22,12-13 ~
God bless you!