Use It or Lose It

You’re asked to look after something, what do you do?  Use it?  Or keep it very carefully?

Matthew 25:14-30 (CEV)

A Story about Three Servants

14 The kingdom is also like what happened when a man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. 15 The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country.

16 As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five thousand coins used them to earn five thousand more.17 The servant who had two thousand coins did the same with his money and earned two thousand more. 18 But the servant with one thousand coins dug a hole and hid his master’s money in the ground.

19 Some time later the master of those servants returned. He called them in and asked what they had done with his money. 20 The servant who had been given five thousand coins brought them in with the five thousand that he had earned. He said, “Sir, you gave me five thousand coins, and I have earned five thousand more.”

21 “Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”

22 Next, the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, “Sir, you gave me two thousand coins, and I have earned two thousand more.”

23 “Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”

24 The servant who had been given one thousand coins then came in and said, “Sir, I know that you are hard to get along with. You harvest what you don’t plant and gather crops where you haven’t scattered seed. 25 I was frightened and went out and hid your money in the ground. Here is every single coin!”

26 The master of the servant told him, “You are lazy and good-for-nothing! You know that I harvest what I don’t plant and gather crops where I haven’t scattered seed.27 You could have at least put my money in the bank, so that I could have earned interest on it.”

28 Then the master said, “Now your money will be taken away and given to the servant with ten thousand coins!29 Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken from those who don’t have anything. 30 You are a worthless servant, and you will be thrown out into the dark where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain.”

I have a lot of sympathy for the third man.  What a sensible thing to do.  He didn’t want to lose his masters money, so he kept it safe.  We wouldn’t be applauding the other two if they had risked his money and lost it.  But there is no suggestion of that.  Just that they took what they had been given and used it for good.  Yet it seems really harsh to castigate someone for keeping something safe until it’s owner returns.

There are two lessons this parable can teach us (well probably many more, but two will do for today!)

(i) what we are given is not for our own sole use, it is to enrich the community around us.  This works with money, possessions, talents, gifts and graces – they are all to share, not to be hidden away.  Who knows how what we can do could help those around us.  Or we can sit at home protecting it; afraid to use it unless it gets lost, broken or all used up; keeping it to ourselves.

God has given us what we have.  He has done so anticipating that we use it.  And if this passage is to be believed, the better we use it, the more we will receive.

(ii)  This passage tells us it is about the Kingdom.  It can be all very nice and cosy to hold tightly to what we have been given.  To enjoy the feeling of knowing God, worshipping him and delighting in all he has given us.

BUT such things are only any real good if we pass on what we have discovered.  If we share with others all that God has given to us, that they can enjoy it too.  That is what true faith is about.  It is not something to be hidden away, but to be used.

By Andrey Mironov (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
So, as we ponder what we have been given, may we think well on what we do with it, how we use it – that we may be a good and faithful servant.

Thank you Lord
for all you give to me.

May I be faithful in using it,
for your kingdom
and for the world.

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