“I was afraid I would lose your money . . .” Matthew 25:25a
The story of the master who entrusts three of his servants with his wealth is a familiar one to students of the Bible. Recent reading I’ve done caused me to look at this story differently than I have before. Usually, I’ve focused on the idea that we are to use the gifts God gave us, not to bury those gifts. In What God Wants for Your Life, by Frederick Schmidt, the author says that the gifts we are given by God are to be spent and risked. That caused me to consider the risk the two faithful servants took by investing the gifts their master entrusted to them.
By investing what they were given, they risked losing everything. Certainly in our current economic climate, I see that as more possible than I might have in more prosperous times. They were judged faithful by their master, not for playing it safe, but for taking chances. The cautious servant was condemned for playing it safe!
The faithful servants’ faithfulness was embodied in their act of spending and risking what they were entrusted with, not the fact that they doubled their investment. How does this play our in my life and in the life of the church? I’m afraid that too often, I am more like the third servant, playing it safe rather than spending and risking what God has given me. And I’ve sat in enough church finance committee meetings to know that churches often do the same thing.
Yet our example for how to live, Jesus, spent and risked everything for me and for us all. He did not run away from a risky situation, but instead went to Jerusalem, where he knew people were out to get him. In fact, in Luke, this story of the three servants is immediately before Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday.
I don’t believe God gave me material gifts so I could put my trust in them instead of in God. I don’t believe God gave me talents and abilities, even life itself, for me to use for my own benefit. The question for me is, will I spend or save what God has given me? What Jesus wants me to do is abundantly clear: “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.” (Matthew 16:25)