All of these flow from relationship. They are not hurdles to jump through before God will love us. They are an overflow of being loved, a natural response to knowing who God really is. This is what we see in the second story from Matthew 25 – the story of the talents.
Again, in order to teach his disciples how to be ready for His return, Jesus told them a story about a master and three servants. The master went away, but before he did he gave one servant 5 talents, another 2 talents, and another 1 talent. A talent was a large sum of money and the master asked them to look after this for Him until He returned.
Now, the first two servants both invested their money and put it to use, and doubled it. The servant with only one talent hid his in the ground. When the master returned he called his servants to account. The first two he was incredibly pleased with. He said to them ‘Well done good and faithful servant!’ and he gave them 10 cities and 4 cities to look after in return. The last servant told him that he hid the money and did nothing with it because he knew that his master was a harsh man who ‘reaped where he did not sow’. The master was angry and threw this servant out giving his talent to the servant who had 10.
What is this all about?
At first glance it can seem that the master really is harsh. He didn’t give equal amounts to the servants and he gave them different rewards, not to mention throwing the one who had the least out!
Yet a closer look, and understanding the parable of the bridesmaids before, tells us the real issue. The excuse of the final servant points us to the critical issue the master was looking for. The value of the servants’ actions wasn’t in how much money they made, but on whether they reflected a right understanding of who He was. Did His servants know Him?
The servant who hid everything did so because he saw his master as harsh, unjust, not to be trusted. His one desire was to not upset him. He took no risks thinking that any mistake would earn punishment, as if that is all the master was interested in.
Truth be told we can often view God like that. He is the headmaster and waiting for the second coming is like sitting outside his office not knowing when we’ll be called in. If only we can keep our noses clean and our socks pulled up then we’ll be alright. If I can think good thoughts and be a nice person without messing up too much, then I’ll be fine. We completely miss His true character and in doing so we miss who we were really made to be.
Yet the truth is so much better. Those other servants understood who their master was. He was a Giver of good gifts, generous, willing to trust, and possessing abundant resources. If he could spare that kind of money for them to deal with as they pleased, how much more must he have had?
For them to take such great risks of investing everything the master had given them, holding nothing back, they must have known something about his character. They must have had confidence that, no matter what mistakes they made or how much they lost, He would still love them, trust them, and be able to provide for them. Knowing this, they gave everything they had.
Our God is not a harsh master looking for a reason to punish us. He is a bridegroom who loves us and is coming to marry us, to bring us into a feast, to bring us into unbroken relationship with Him. He calls us ‘good and faithful’. That is all He longs for from us: that we would recognise His goodness, abundance and love enough to entrust all of ourselves to Him. Like those talents, everything we have, our very lives, are gifts from Him. He has more than enough, His heart is to reward our simple faithfulness extravagantly (a city for every talent!), all He wants to see is: do we know Him? If we do, then we’ll live like it.
Our life right now is often one of chronos. We’re called to work and to wait. We get glimpses of encounters with God and seeing Him move. Every time we do it reminds us of who He is, of His character, His goodness, His love. It prepares us, excites us, reminds us to be ready for when He finally comes again. We get ready by keeping our lamps filled with oil. Even our chronos – our work time – is spent in relationship with Him through the Spirit – our work is to keep connected to Him – to be with Him every moment. When we know Him we see the gifts He’s given us and we’ll throw our whole selves into living for Him. In that place we’ll live the lives He’s made us for – lives of working and waiting yes, but also lives of abundance, of expectation, of seeing Him move, of knowing Him.
Take heart my friends. We’re not called to achieve for God but to be faithful to Him; not to earn His love, but to receive it and live from that place of relationship.
The ultimate kairos moment is coming: our lover is coming back – our we ready? Do we know Him?