Monday, June 7, 2010

Parables and Work Ethic

I remember my first post on The Voice, when I talked about God's sovereignty and how that doctrine gives me peace. I remember when, taking position in front of the laptop in my living room, I presented a veritable litany of uncertainties that were relieved because of my trust in a sovereign God: I listed concerns about my apartment, my car, my roommate, my girlfriend, my job, and my last paycheck. Finally, and most convicting of all, I wrote about how concerned I was that "the other contributors to this blog could lose their vision and end up abandoning the project, especially since it can usually take 4-5 months before something like this even starts to draw attention." I confess now that it was I, not they, who initially gave in. During this, my month of silence, Nic and Seth have both posted and I have contributed nothing. I apologize for that, and I'm here to share what my conviction, brought about by the Gospel of Matthew has taught me.

A Man Went On a Journey
As I closed in on the final chapters of Matthew's Gospel, nearing his account of the betrayal, arrest, beatings, mocking, whipping, and crucifixion of Christ, I found myself floored by this recorded parable of the Lord Jesus:

"[The Kingdom] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave 5 talents, to another 2, to another 1, each according to his ability. Then he went away..." -Jesus, Matthew 25:14-30
If you go on to read the rest of the story, and I hope you do, you'll see that the first two men invest the money that was handed to them, and that they go on to double the massive chunk of change of entrusted to them (one talent alone was worth about 20 years' wages for a labourer). Their master comes back and essentially says "well done boys, I'm buying you ice cream." After being told "you have been faithful with a little, I will entrust you with much," they enter into their Master's joy (a reference to heaven). They go on, presumably, to live happily ever after. The lesson here is that God rewards those who put His gifts to use--certainly gifts like money and cars and swimming pools, but also gifts like artistic ability, intelligence, physical strength, reading comprehension, problem-solving skills, or the ability to inspire or communicate with others. Everything that God gives us must be invested into our lives, which we will one day give back to God. How we pursue our life and work should be an act of worship proceeding from faith. If that is how we live, Jesus says, we will enter into our Master's joy; we will succeed in the honourable task of rendering unto God that which is God's (Matthew 22:15-22).

The story didn't end with those two brilliant investors, though. Jesus chose to give his short, parabolic story a sad ending: the cautionary tale of the third man who buried his Master's riches. Instead of investing the money he was given, this man tucks it away and he never looks at it again. He doesn't spend it on cars and houses and women; he just gives up and doesn't spend it on anything at all. One day his Master comes back from his journey, and he comes to settle accounts. "Master," he says, "I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours." Instead of being called trustworthy and faithful, this man is called wicked and lazy; instead of being invited into his Master's joy, he is thrown into the outer darkness; instead of owning up to his responsibilities, he treated his Master's money like it was a worthless rock that had no use except to be buried under ground. If God gives you something, you should strive not to be like this man. You should strive to use all the gifts that He has given you, and you should use them wisely, and you should use them for His sake because you love Him.

I am convicted because God blessed the initial month of this blog, giving it the sort of success and support that few of my other ideas have received. More so, He has provided contributors who are far superior to me in their ability to present ideas, capture attention, and write persuasively. He has brought along brothers in Christ who are more able than I am. He has, I feel, given me this small responsibility of posting on a Christian blog, and I need to view that as a trust. Posting on The Voice is a proverbial talent that I need to treat with respect, worshiping God with the frequency and quality of my content. What "talents" or responsibilities has God given you?

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