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Monday, August 7, 2023

The Faithful Servant

I’m very proud of all my children.  They’re all responsible, dependable, trustworthy, and mature. Abigail has followed right along in the footsteps of her older siblings.  Now that she is 16 and can drive herself wherever she needs to go—to work, to school—I had no fear that we could trust her to take care of herself while Kelly and I were out of town last week.  She stayed home by herself and I wasn’t worried she would get into trouble, or be unsafe, or throw a wild party while we were gone.  She could be trusted to do good, to be safe, and also to take care of the house and all our pets while we were gone.

Isn’t it nice to have someone you can trust?  Isn’t it nice to be able to trust your children? Or, if you ask someone to to house sit for you while you are out of town, isn’t it nice to know you have someone there you can trust watching over everything--your pets, your plants.

But what if you hired a house sitter and paid them a good wage to take care of your home and then you came back and found your place was trashed because the house sitter threw a big party and tore up the place.  And on top of it all, you dog starved to death because of the sitter’s neglect. How would that make you feel?  What would you do?

Well, that brings us to the Scripture for today’s message – Jesus’ Parable of the Faithful Servant.

Luke 12:42-46
“A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 43 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 44 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 45 But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 46 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.

The Parable
Jesus was a masterful storyteller.  He taught important spiritual lessons with parables.  The characters and situations in His parables symbolize spiritual truths.  Let explain this parable.

The Master in the story represents Jesus, the Lord of all creation.  The Master is gone away on a trip just as Jesus has gone to be in Heaven.  While the Master (Jesus) is away, He has left the servant in charge of the entire household.  So, we are in this story with Jesus.  Who are is servant?  You are the servant in the story.  You have been left in charge of a household while Jesus is away from earth, in Heaven.

The Household represents those things for which you are responsible in this life.  What is that?   Your time. Your talent. Your money.  Your relationships.  Your witness and all of the things under your care.

Now, we usually assume we own our time, our talent, our money, etc. and we can choose to do with them whatever we please.  But Jesus uses this parable to say:  You are the Master’s servant.  You are Jesus' servant.  And household doesn’t belong to the servant.  All these things you “own” aren’t really yours.  The servant is in charge while the Master is away, but it’s not the servant’s household.  It all still belongs to the Master.

Another word for servant is steward.  Steward is where we get the ward, stewardship.  A steward is one who manages something important on behalf of a master.  We are all stewards of that which Jesus has entrusted to us and how we manage is our stewardship.  And that’s the way we should think about everything in our life.  How can I use my house to serve Jesus?  How can I use my car to serve Jesus?  How can I use my employment to serve the Lord?  How can I use my money to serve God?  How can I use my whole life and everything in it to serve Jesus, the Master (because these things don’t really belong to me)?

The Master (Jesus) left you in charge of some important things until He returns.  Jesus is coming back one day.  He promised He would.  And we don’t know when He’s coming, but He’ll come back when you least expect it.

Eternal Reward
Jesus says if the Master finds a servant has been faithful in His absence, that servant will get a reward.  The Master will put that servant in charge of everything He owns.  Now think of that.  The things we enjoy on earth are all temporary.  They wear out on earth and we can’t take them with us when we die.  But if we are faithful with the things God gives us in this life, He will out us in charge of everything He owns in Eternity.  Think of all Jesus owns…

Cut to Pieces and Banished
Now Jesus, who we usually see as kind and gently and merciful (because He is) also give a stern warning in His parable.  He warns what will happen to an unfaithful servant.  Verse 46, “He will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.”  Notice it says, he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.
How do you banish someone who has already been cut to pieces?  Apparently, when the Master returns, the rewards and punishments will be eternal.  So you can be cut into pieces and then suffer the pain and terror of that in eternal banishment.

That sound awful!  But if you think back to how you would feel if you hired someone to take care of your house while you were out of town and they neglected it and killed you pets and destroyed your home with a wild party, you may understand the anger of the Master.  And we’re not talking about a mere house.  We are talking about a world and people’s lives. 

Before Jesus left His disciples, He shared a special meal with them.  In this sacred meal, He showed them what He was doing for them and He told them to share this meal regularly to remember Him.

As we share this sacred meal of Holy Communion, remember Jesus.  Remember that He is Lord and you are His servant.  He has left you in charge of some things.  What are you doing them?

Take some time today to pray over the things Jesus has left in your care.  Think about all the resources He has given you:  your time, your talent, your money, your witness.  How are you using all the things God has given you for His glory?

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