Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:19-22
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
When I read a certain Bible passage, first I pray for the Holy Spirit’s help in understanding and interpreting the verse. Then I use my study guides to help me consider the context, in other words, where the writer was coming from and what he was talking about in the previous verses.
Even at that, I can still muck things up by over complicating it.
In reading these two passages, I did what I do most of the time. I insert myself in the story and I ask myself some questions:
“Which one am I, really?
“Which one does God see me as?
“How do others see me?
I imagine myself standing before Jesus on that day, hopping up and down on one singed foot…….”Well, here I am Lord! I barely escaped the flames but I’m here, whew!” And then with an almost imperceptible shake of His head and sadness in His eyes, He holds His arms out to me anyway.
And then there are the talents……all those gifts He gave me that I clung to in fear. That I held deep inside. Those things I was afraid to share with others…….that light I didn’t let shine for fear of failure. And those I buried in the backyard trying to them safe instead of giving them out so He could multiply them for me.
When it all comes down to it, we are extremely hard on ourselves. And the reason God put all those things in the Bible is not to make us feel terrible about ourselves, but to spur us on to action. To encourage us.
He wants us to see that while we see only our failure, He sees where we have succeeded in Him.
He sees those times we seem to think nothing of. Those times we prayed for hours, faithfully each morning. Those times we passed the grocery cart to the next person and smiled. The time we were a peace-maker at work. Those times we were obedient by picking up the phone to encourage a fellow believer……
When we stand there before Jesus, feeling very much alone, maybe feeling maybe a little bit like the cowardly lion before Oz?
I believe He will say: “Who are all those behind you?”
Then we will look…….and He will remind us of all those times. And all those people.
Maybe you are not Billy Graham. And maybe, like me, you don’t preach on street corners. But you do love God, and you do share that love with others. And your talents too.
And just maybe, that one kindness you do today will be that last barrier that you remove, that last thing standing in the way of someone else’s salvation.
You just never know.