Saturday, December 18, 2010

Risky Business

“I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth.”
                                                                                                Matthew 25:25

Fear of failure inhibits growth and success. When I read this familiar parable about the master who doles out his assets among three of his servants, I usually focus on the need to use the gifts God gives me for his glory. Yet, this time, I read it with the idea that it’s a parable instead about taking risks.

The servants who received multiple bags of silver (or talents, depending on your translation) took chances with their master’s assets. They could have failed, and in fact, they may have had failures along the way as they doubled what the master had given them. As we currently go through a down economy, most of us can relate to making investments that end up failing.

In this parable, we don’t get to hear about how these two servants invested their master’s assets. We might be shocked at the risks these two servants took and the failures they encountered. Having the responsibility and taking chances likely was stressful for them at times, but their willingness to put themselves at risk paid off.

However, the servant who buried what he was given was able to pass the time while his master was away with no stress. He could go about his business as usual, living comfortably in his normal routine because he did not take any chances with what the master had given him. He played it safe, but was not commended for doing so!

To consider this as a parable about taking risks shows me that Jesus is teaching us that risk-free living is not the Master’s desire for us. It is only in risking failure that we can receive the affirmation of the Master. It is only in risking everything that we can gain everything. As Jesus says in Matthew 16:25: “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”

God took a huge risk when he came to earth as flesh and blood to live among us as one of us. The birth of Jesus is so much more than a sweet story about a young couple who has a baby in a stable. It is the ultimate in-breaking of Immanuel, God with us. Just as God gave everything for us, we are called to give everything to him, to give up our right to ourselves and take risks with all he has given us, which is everything we have. What will seem as a failure in the eyes of the world will be commended by our Master.

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