John Wesley, from his death bed, wrote these words to William Wilberforce [a change agent who fought against slavery in England for more than 40 years]:
“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? Be not weary in well doing!”
Wilberforce retired from politics in 1825 and died on July 29, 1833, shortly after the British Slavery Abolition Act passed through the House of Commons. The influence of one man responding to the call of God impacted the British Empire and eventually North America.
Who knows where the next William Wilberforce will emerge? Whether it is abolishing slavery or making a difference in the life of our neighbour, eternal significance is not found in notoriety or fame, but in our obedience as a servant to our Master.
Mother Teresa explained it this way: “God has not called me to be successful; he has called me to be faithful.”
Jesus taught with great seriousness and directness in Matthew 25:14-30 in His parable of the talents. Would you please take a couple of minutes to read it?
Wealthy landowners and businessmen often went on long journeys. With the uncertainties in travel 2,000 years ago, the estimated time of return for the master would be much less predictable. The question for the employees or servants would be, “Will I be ready for my master’s return?”
We have two choices in managing our mission: use it or lose it. How can we use it?
Bible scholars and commentators discuss the value of a talent. One estimates a talent was a monetary unit worth about 20 years’ wages for a labourer (revisedenglishversion.com).
By leaving behind five, two, or even one talent, this wealthy master was entrusting large sums of money to his most dependable and trusted servants.
These servants would have several options to grow their master’s investment. They could lend it to moneychangers, who would use it to turn a profit and give them a substantial share. Lending money at interest was also profitable, given the exorbitant interest rates (although Jews were not supposed to charge interest to fellow Jews). One patron is reported to have lent to an entire city at roughly 50 percent interest! Because most people did not have capital available for investment, those who did could reap large profits.
Doubling one’s investment was normal, so the servants should have been able to accomplish this. It was commonly understood by the people living 2,000 years ago that a person who could be trusted with little, could be trusted with much.
When the servants with five and two talents both reported that they doubled their master’s money, the master replied, “Well done! Come and share your master’s happiness!” Chances are the master called for a banquet to celebrate his servants’ success.
Your call is not about your self-realization. The church, primarily, is not here to serve you. Your call is about obedience to your Master and the church is about helping you to be obedient to your Master.
Stop and take inventory of how the Lord can use your experiences, gifts, resources and passion to accomplish His call upon your life.
We have two choices in managing our mission: use it or lose it. How can we lose it?
One of the safest and least profitable ways of protecting one’s money was to bury it in the ground. Such buried reserves are still occasionally found because someone never returned to retrieve their deposits.
The third slave should have known better, but he simply did not care what happened to his master’s property. The smallest possible investment—providing interest on a savings deposit—could not have endangered the deposit; it would have been as safe as burying the money. The phrase, “You have what is yours” or as the New International Version translates, “See, here is what belongs to you”—was used in Jewish transactions to say, “I am not responsible for this any further.”
This servant let fear and apathy rule his heart. Refusing to take responsibility for what was entrusted to him, he simply hid the one talent entrusted to him and incurred the master’s wrath. Darkness is used elsewhere in the Bible as an image for hell (Matthew 8:12).
Do you realize what is at stake here? Accept the words of Jesus for what they are. What you do with what He has entrusted to you, will have eternal implications. Excuses will not work on the Day of Judgment.
Where there is mature love and closeness with Jesus Christ, there will be no cowering before Him or running from Him. The by-products of knowing Him well are faith, boldness and obedience.
Maintaining what you have is not an option. There is no “park” or “neutral” in this vehicle in which you and I are riding. There is either “forward” or “reverse”. You are either making progress, or falling back.
The Bible refers frequently to the return of Jesus Christ. Are you ready for that moment? Prepare to give an account for what the Master has entrusted to you. It’s your call.