When first we followed Christ, consumed by zeal, we couldn’t do enough, give enough, or be enough. We wanted to read and pray all the time. Tiny footsteps didn’t satisfy; we wanted to leap and jump forward in pleasing him! But because we get easily side-tracked, we return to taking baby steps. Plodding along, content with just getting by.
It’s easy to forget that little things, because they make up bigger ones, count. Little gifts and talents. Small acts of kindness, or how we treat others. Working hard, even when the boss isn’t looking. How we spend our money. How we fill our time.
All these little things form our character and integrity, or lack of it.
I love the parable of the talents, where the master left money in his servants’ care before going on a trip (Matthew 25:14-30). (Read online here.)
And expecting them to put it to good use, he put one servant in charge of five thousand coins, and another of two thousand. And they both did just what their master wanted them to do. They used those coins to make even more.
But he only gave one thousand coins to the last servant. Who, perhaps with good intent, wanted to safeguard and not lose them. So he hid the money, digging it up when his master returned. “Here’s your money” he said as he returned it. “Knowing you’re a hard man, I was afraid and hid it in the ground. But here is what is yours.”
And the displeased master rebuked him as a lazy servant.
“Why did you hide it? It wasn’t yours to hoard. You should have used it to earn more.”
The lazy servant got a rebuke, and the good, faithful servants a pat on the back.
But they really didn’t really didn’t get much more that. We’re not told they got a share in the profits, or even a bonus. Since they were either hired servants or slaves, we assume they continued to get paid. Or at least had their food and lodging. But, other than being given even more work to do, they really got no reward for doing right.
I sometimes think we struggle to keep our vision because of our reward mentality.
From earthly employers, we receive the reward of a paycheck. Or when we spend money wisely, we feel we have something of value to show for it. We feel rewarded for doing right. With a reward we can see and touch.
But not when we embrace Christ’s giving lifestyle. When we use our money or talents for his kingdom, we have nothing to ‘show’ for it, materially speaking. There is no earthly master to give the back slap, or to even buy us a cup of coffee.
Our reward is unseen, and we have a hard time focusing on the unseen.
So we take the road of the unprofitable servant, and opt for the immediate reward. He liked the feeling of knowing that talent was there, safely kept. Ready to hand back to his master. Perhaps he even dug it up every so often, just to make sure.
And we do the same. We like seeing our bank account grow. It gives us a solid, tangible feeling. We also like the reward getting of new things for our money. Something we can hold and admire. Touch, see, and keep.
When starting out with Christ, we caught our first glimpse of the unseen, and it captivated us.
But gradually, the cares of this life, our lack of spiritual food, and our covetous nature, draw our focus to the things we can see. We lose sight of our vision, wanting immediate rewards. We find ourselves reduced to taking baby steps again. And plodding along, we wonder where the joy went.
But by focusing on the unseen, we keep God’s vision plainly in sight. Knowing that our reward, unseen for now, will come!
But once we’re in that unseen world, will rewards even matter any more?
[Image via ©TheScorziellos-Mario]