Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant!

At one point, Jesus told His disciples a story that has come to be known as the Parable of the Bags of Gold. This story is captured in Matthew chapter 25, and I’ve pasted at the bottom of this post due to the length of that passage, since I thought it would be useful to see the whole story. Having said that, though, what I really want to focus on is, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, the acknowledgement given to the two servants who used their gifts wisely: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

The reason I want to emphasize this is because of the vast difference between the Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of this world. All across the globe today, success is generally tied to outcomes–the best athlete wins the gold medal, the best hunter is the one who gets the most food for the tribe, the best project managers are those who finish their projects on time and within budget, etc. This idea is fairly well understood across cultures. However, in the economy of God’s Kingdom, what seems to matter most is that we serve God as best we can with the talents He has given us in the situations in which we find ourselves–not the outcomes.

The outcomes are in God’s hands.

In much the same way that we can’t take credit when God works through us to achieve things greater than we could have imagined, we also can’t allow ourselves to be dissatisfied with any Godly thing we do even if it doesn’t yield the outcome we expected, or even one that’s visible to us at all. The outcome will be one that God designed and desired, and will occur in His timing. For example, my wife and I taught third and fourth grade Sunday school at church for a year or two. Honestly, it’s hard to see great outcomes when you’re teaching kids that age. The best you can hope for usually is that there is some general sense of order in the classroom and that more of the children seem to be paying attention than those who are pulling something out of their nose or putting gum in someone’s hair. But still it remains a sacred duty to lovingly and as accurately as possible in words that 9-year-olds can understand, plant the seeds of the Kingdom in their hearts and minds.

Here’s the thing: the outcomes for any of those kids may come at any point in their lives, long after they’ve forgotten that my wife and I taught them Sunday school in third or fourth grade. They may not even make the connection that something we said or did triggered growth in their relationship with God so many years later.

And that’s OK with God. The important thing for us to know is not the outcomes of what we did, but just that we did it. We used whatever talents and situations He blessed us with to help another one of His created beings. We attempted to further the Kingdom, not our own interests, which is really what we’re focused on when we want to know the outcome of our actions.

We don’t get to know that. But what we do get is a kind word of encouragement from our Creator. This is one of the things I look forward to when I get to heaven: for Jesus to smile at me, pat me on the back, and sum up all the things I’ve done to serve Him (a paltry offering compared with all that He has done for me!) with the simple phrase, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Here is the passage from Matthew 25. It’s probably worth noting that I am aware that my message above, that the outcomes from our service to God are in His hands, is not exactly the same as the message of the parable, in which the first two servants seem to be rewarded and praised because of their outcomes–they each doubled what they were given. However, at the risk of having a theological argument with myself, I will contend that even if the first two servants hadn’t doubled what they were given, they still would have gotten rewarded since they were earnestly trying to provide good outcomes for their master; the third servant was punished because he didn’t even bother trying to use what he was given in a productive way.

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

Jesus, in Matthew 25:14-30 (NIV)

About Writing & Photography by David K. Carpenter

Photographer of Light and Life, Writer of Life as it finds me
This entry was posted in Christian, Faith and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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