Accountability; May 25, 2018

Matthew 25:21 (23) “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'”

This is one of Jesus’ most famous parables, and is the source of our using the word, “talent”, to mean ability, when it was originally a unit of weight, and then by extension, money. It has widely been pointed out that Jesus has the master saying exactly the same thing to the servant who started with five talents and the one who started with two, because they each used what they had been given and doubled it. It was only the servant who failed to use what had been entrusted to him who was condemned. As familiar as we are with this parable, we often fail to apply it to ourselves. Comparing ourselves with others seems much more common than not doing so, whether that comparison is for the better or for the worse. If we think we didn’t get as much as someone else, we destroy our own peace and joy with envy, which is a favorite tool of the devil. If we think we got more than someone else, too often we look down on the other person and fall into pride, which is the absolute favorite tool of the devil. Either way we lose, and only the devil is pleased. The Bible has a lot to say on this subject in various ways. In the Church, people often seek positions of authority because they like the respect and praise they see as attaching to those positions, but as James said, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1) However, if you are gifted and called in that way, failure to teach puts you in the position of the third servant in Jesus’ parable. Any way you look at it, humility, commitment, and diligence are called for. If we seek and apply those, then we too will receive the accolade recorded here.

When it comes to ability, I’ve always been a “five talent” sort of person, which puts me in a special sort of bind. I have fallen short in both humility and diligence, at least, and God alone can rightly judge my commitment. Growing up, sports were about the only thing I couldn’t do well, but given adolescent priorities, that gave me an inferiority complex. I covered that up by despising those who weren’t as intellectually gifted as I was, using words to try to wound them. At the same time, because so much came easily to me, I didn’t try really hard at anything, which greatly limited my achievements. I skipped my senior year of high school, entering college out of the 11th grade, and was tied for the highest SAT score of my freshman class, but I failed two classes in that freshman year because I was too used to coasting through school. I’m sure I was a major disappointment to a lot of people! I’ve had a checkered career since then, skipping around a lot of jobs before ending up in Omura in 1981, where inertia, as much as anything else, has kept me. The one thing I feel I have done well, and that has caused people to want to emulate me, has been my marriage. Yesterday was our 49th anniversary, and I think a lot of people are somewhat in awe of what they see in our relationship. It all boils down to accountability for what we have been given, and God is the judge of that. I’m deeply grateful for His grace and mercy!

Father, this is a parable I’ve thought about many times. I have shown I can’t be the good and faithful servant You desire on my own, so I ask You to work that in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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