“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21)
We all want to get ahead in life, right? Get a promotion, earn more money? When we are teenagers or young adults first leaving the house, we feel like we can take on the world, and nothing is out of reach; but we soon learn that the pecking order starts at the bottom.
Once we show that we are able to fulfill the responsibilities of a lower position, we are gradually given more and more responsibility as we rise in seniority. This is true in business, as well as in the church. And the foundation for this precept was given by none other than Jesus Himself.
#1 Picture of Heavenly Accountability
The parable of the talents is one of the most familiar stories from the Gospels. In His “object lessons” that used the language and imagery common people were familiar with, Jesus unpacked deep truths about the kingdom of heaven and about our role in serving God here on earth.
This particular parable in Matthew 25:1-30 tells of a master who left talents (which we can assume to be some kind of currency) to some of his servants. Two of them were savvy investors and hard workers and doubled the amount they were entrusted with, but one servant simply buried what was given to him. When the master returned from his travels, the two faithful servants showed that they had been responsible for what had been assigned to them, and they were rewarded with more. But the “lazy” servant was reprimanded for his ignorance, and what little he had was taken from him.
#2 Pitfalls of Happiness and Greed
It is important to remember that we do not serve God just to gain riches. The belief that serving God will make us rich is what is commonly known as “prosperity theology” or “prosperity gospel,” and it does not have its focus on God’s will, but simply on how much we can gain for ourselves. This kind of theology loses the vitality of a life yielded to Christ and instead focuses on material gain.
Jesus also warned against worrying about our material wealth and worth (Matthew 6:19-34) and pointed out the importance of displacing money as an idol (Mark 10:17-22) and praised those who gave everything they could for His sake (Luke 21:1-4). God promises to provide for our needs (2 Corinthians 9:8), and it is true that the faithful servants were given greater wealth as a result of their actions. But the point of the parable was in the work itself, not the reward. The faithful servants were invited to share in their master’s happiness (Matthew 25:21), and the wicked servant was cast out into a state of mourning (Matthew 25:30).
#3 Perspectives on Holistic Application
This is the proper application of the concept of stewardship. God owns everything anyway since He created it (Psalm 24:1), and we cannot assume that we are entitled to whatever we “earn” for our work (Deuteronomy 8:17). When we align our vision to this right view that God has blessed us in His giving, we can remember to be faithful stewards of what He has entrusted to us. We remember that we cannot “own” anything, but rather are responsible for caring for it during our lives on this earth.
This applies to our “time and treasure,” which is a phrase commonly used in the church for our work and our tithes and offerings. We should be good stewards of our finances, faithfully giving to the church and to those in need as the Holy Spirit compels us (2 Corinthians 9:7). We should also be generous with our time and use it in the service of others, regardless of whether we are paid for our time. We should also be faithful with our spiritual gifts and natural abilities, which God has given us to use for the benefit of our fellow believers (1 Peter 4:10).
#4 Prepared for Holy Activity
Although it should not be our primary focus, the notion of “growing where we are planted” will lead to greater responsibility from God as we grow and mature in Him. David faithfully followed God in his youth, and he was made king over all of Israel because he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). His son, Solomon, also felt that weight of responsibility when he ascended to the throne and sought God’s wisdom in ruling over His chosen people (1 Kings 3:7-9).
God is using your circumstances to prepare you for what He has in store. We may not understand what He is doing at the time (Isaiah 55:8-9), but we can rest assured that His plan will always work out for our good (Romans 8:28). If we are faithful with the responsibilities and gifts God has given us today, He will give us greater things in the future, as long as we remember to return those gifts back to Him and act not as entitled owners but as faithful and submissive stewards.
So take stock of your life today, and ask God what He has blessed you with. Perhaps you have an opportunity to serve others in your local church, or you may be looking for additional responsibilities in the workplace. Whatever the case, be faithful and hardworking where God has planted you, and work as if God Himself was your boss (Colossians 3:23). You never know when He will reveal His next steps for your life.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.