November 28, 2009

I just read a story about a man who went on a trip and left his employees in charge of his stuff. He gave three of them different amounts of responsibility in the form of money (It’s in Matthew 25 if you’d like to read it). The story doesn’t give a travelog of the man’s journey; it doesn’t even tell where he went or how long he was gone.

Instead, it describes what happened when he came back. Two of the trustees had been busy investing his money, and had earned dividends. He says to them, “Well cone, my good and faithful servant….” The “faithful” part caught my attention. It took faith for these two to risk the funds with which they’d been trusted. They had to realize something about the master’s character in order to be willing to take chances with his money. What would he do to them if they lost it? If someone else squandered it? How would the master react? Evidently their answer to all these questions was positive. They stepped out on faith in the good character of the one who had trusted them with his estate.

The third trustee, however, had a different response. He said, “I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back” (NLT).

The boss was incensed. But I don’t think the tenant’s waste of the resources was the primary offense. I think it was his lack of faith. That trustee didn’t believe in the employer’s good character. He assumed the worst of the man, and his fear paralyzed him from stepping out in faith. He judged and condemned the one who had trusted him instead of returning the honor. His offense was in defaming and dishonoring the man more than just wasting his resources.

When someone misunderstands or misreads God’s character, it’s easy for them to be afraid of God instead of honoring and trusting Him. Growing close to Him and glimpsing His incredible love counteracts being afraid to trust. But this doesn’t happen all at once. He trusted me with five responsibilities in one area and three in another and one in my weakest place. Which ones will I invest and trust Him with? What will I do with the one that is hardest for me to let go? If I invest it, I have to grow in faith. If I don’t invest it, I insult God.

In the end, it isn’t the resources that most concern my Father. It’s how much I trust Him. The first two trustees in the story earned more responsibility because they were faithful. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”

I wonder how often my faith makes God want to celebrate…

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