I don’t have it all together.
I enjoy sharing what God is doing in my life. I like learning new things about his word and about life in his world, and I like sharing my findings with you. But I don’t know everything. Sometimes when I study Scripture, I walk away not with a fresh discovery or a grand epiphany but with a convicting reminder that I need to work on a lot of things in my life. Such was the case yesterday.
I read through Matthew 25 yesterday morning. There, Jesus gives two parables about the kingdom of God before speaking of the final judgment. Jesus first tells a story of ten virgins awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom to a wedding feast. After a delay, the bridegroom arrives, but only five of the virgins were prepared. Jesus warns his listeners to “watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13). In the second recorded parable, Jesus tells a story of a master who, before leaving on a journey, entrusted talents (sums of money) to three of his servants. When the master returned, he found that two of the servants used the money entrusted to them to double their resources, resulting in a profit for the master. The third servant simply had hidden his master’s money away. The first two servants were honored by the master; the third servant was cast out from the master’s presence. Matthew then records Jesus’ teaching about the final judgment. There, Jesus says, all people will be separated into two groups: the sheep and the goats. The sheep are rewarded for how they served Jesus and the goats are punished for how they neglected Jesus. When both groups express confusion (for neither group remembers serving or avoiding Jesus), they learn that the Lord counts service toward “one of the least of these” (25:40, 45) as service unto him.
As I read through these three scenes, three different ideas stood out, convicting me of my failures and calling me to growth.
The first parable of the chapter calls for readiness. Five virgins were prepared; five were not. As I reflect on my life, I see a lack of preparedness. I have a tendency to become spiritually complacent and to coast rather than to consistently progress in faith and in service. I fail to use my time wisely, wasting far more time than I redeem. Jesus’ words challenged me to make the most of the time given to me, to recognize the importance of being prepared, and to be found faithful to my post.
The second parable of the chapter calls for action. Just as the master entrusted talents to his servants, so God has entrusted things to me to be used for the kingdom. How I use my time, my money, and my abilities, then, matters more than I often realize. I dare not waste these resources, hiding them away until my time on earth is complete; I am called to work, to put forth effort, to use what God has entrusted to me for his glory.
The picture of the final judgment in Matthew 25 highlights the importance of serving “the least of these” (25:40, 45). We may reasonably assume that these people would have served Jesus if they had seen him in the flesh. Jesus judged them, however, by how they served the least among them, the lowly, those who likely could not repay any kindness shown. I read Jesus’ words and was reminded that I need to serve all around me as if I am serving Christ (Colossians 3:24). I want to be faithful to serve however and whomever I can whenever and wherever the opportunity arises.
Each of these three points struck me, for they revealed aspects of my walk with the Lord that need work. I am not prepared as I should be. I don’t use the talents entrusted to me faithfully. I don’t take advantage of the opportunities given me. Though I’ve grown much in the last number of years, I still have far to go. I pray, then, that I would be found faithful in these areas. I pray that God would help me to grow to become more like him. And I thank God for being patient with me, for showing grace and mercy to me by convicting me of sin, and for working in me “to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).