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I think it is important to remember that what we read in Matthew 24 and 25 was first addressed to people who had followed Jesus from Galilee. The crowd was comprised of people who had experienced such things as healing, deliverance, miraculous feeding, and daily instruction from Jesus. They have witnessed Jesus’ confrontation with religious leaders in the area around the Temple.
Jesus had given them three predictions about his death and has now begun to give instruction about his return to this world. For all practical purposes they appear to be genuine followers of Jesus. They are not uninformed, or disinterested, or among his opponents.
It is to these faithful followers that Jesus spoke the following parable.
He said, “Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions.
“But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24.45-51).
Put in Charge
We should read the words, “put in charge,” as if they were in bold print. Whether we like it or not, God has put his followers in charge of the care of this world. As servants of the King of all kings, our responsibility is to fulfill the assignment he has given to us.
One of the great joys of my life is to see people enthusiastically engage as servants to the world. Serving is often tiring and messy. Yet, there are those who are willing to serve the homeless and the needy. Others, embrace service to provide education to children. Many help addicts obtain sobriety. Still others fulfill the important service of praying for other people. Many use their occupations as a vehicle for their service.
Jesus has a word for servants of all kinds and in all generations. He said, “Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives” (Matthew 24.46).
People who are faithful to God and diligent in serving others are blessed. They follow God’s principles for living and experience the blessed results. At the judgment or return of Christ, which ever comes first for them, they will again be blessed with God’s approval.
God Has No “B” Team
It is estimated that 17% of Americans are followers of Jesus. What do you think? If 17% of your hamburger was comprised of salt, would you notice it?
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5.13). Why is it that followers of Jesus are making such a small impact on our culture? Could it be that there is a pervasive belief that there are two levels of being a follower of Jesus. The “A” Team serves Jesus by taking seriously his words, “you are in charge.”
Somehow, others have the belief that it is okay to be on the “B” Team. It is believed it is acceptable to be a “nominal” Christian or a “cultural” Christian. After all, they may think, “a Christian is a Christian. What’s the big deal?”
Jesus made it clear. All of his servant are given the responsibility to be engaged in his service. We are judged by whether we serve others or choose to serve ourselves.
What is characteristic of “B” Team Christians is their selfishness. Instead of serving, they indulge their own self-centered desires. Instead of giving, they are characterized by getting. They have failed to live beyond their own self interest.
The “B” Team will not end up well at his return. They are called hypocrites, because they pretend to follow Jesus but not actually serving him. They will be consigned to judgment, not blessing.
As the “salt of the earth,” we need to remember Jesus’ words, “But if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot” (Matthew 5.13).
What’s In Your Pocket?
Dr. Paul Farmer grew up in a Florida trailer park, but graduated from Harvard as a medical doctor and an anthropologist. His organization, Partners in Health, established a clinic in a very isolated region of Haiti.
Farmer met with community leaders in a dirt floor church building to talk about their needs. When the meeting was over, he as asked to visit a man whom they thought was dying.
The man was indeed dying. The 20 year-old patient had an acute case of asthma and was literally suffocating right before they eyes of his young wife and two children.
Farmer is also an asthmatic and he carried an emergency inhaler in his pocket. The man’s case was so advanced that Farmer had to force the inhaler into his mouth. After working feverishly with him for nearly 30 minutes the man was able to respond to treatment. God used what was in Farmer’s pocket to give life to this young father and husband.
The next day, the patient was well enough to walk eight miles to where Farmer was working. He brought all he had, a rooster and three eggs, to express his appreciation. Over and over, he said, “You saved my life.”
What is in your pocket today that God can use to save a life, to make life better for someone, and to demonstrate God’s amazing love? Are you willing to be on the “A” Team, knowing that this parable makes it clear that there is no “B” Team?
Dear Jesus, your love is amazing. I want you to be able to use me to extend your love to others. Please help me use the gifts you have given me in your service.