Summary: This is a sermon/message delivered at the 2021 officers councils for the Fiji Division of The Salvation Army. A reminder that Jesus knew the fragilities of his disciples and that they would be tempted. Like them, we all need reminding.

Being intentional: The choice, faithful and wise or wicked

Matthew 24:45: “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you; he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I spell out my desire for the future of the Division.

The messages that I am bringing at this councils have a focus on who we are as officers our roles in ministry and outreach to those we serve, as we respond to the love that God has shown us in the person of Jesus but also by empowering us through and with the person of the Holy Spirit. I want to point out right from the start that this message is not about doing more, but being intentional about what we do, about the intentional nature that we engage with our fellow citizens of the kingdom and all people. It is also about our relationship with God, about faithfulness to God, about responding to his still small voice, rather than our own wants and desires, it is about holiness and service. For me there are two commands that we are given. I don’t know if that is because some of us, me included struggle with remembering ten? One about loving God, the other about loving others, because whatever we do to others there are outcomes for good or evil, we either help or we hurt others.

If we look first at Matthew 24: 45-51 we get this description of a servant, this passage is not about two servants, that is how I often read it, but one who could be one of two things, either faithful and wise or wicked, in this day we would say a bad or evil servant, a nasty bit of goods we would say in my family. The difference between these actions is the servants focus on what he is doing and who they are doing it for, we could ask, what is the servant’s intention?

Remember that this teaching is about the coming of the Master, Jesus is teaching about his return. Jesus taught this to his immediate disciples at a time very close to the end of his ministry. Jesus believed that this was a message his immediate disciples needed to hear, why, well they like us were human and could be faithful and wise, or wicked like the next man or woman.

So in the gospel, the faithful and wise servant went about the master’s business. The Master was out of town, but the servant was being wise and holding himself accountable in his service to his master or we could say herself accountable as being a servant of Jesus is not gender-specific. Here’s a question; like this servant do we, live each day like it is the day that the master is returning but set your planning for his household years ahead?

The wise servant got on with his duties, to look after the other servants of the household and to ensure that the other servants had their food at the proper time. That is all Jesus mentioned that this servant’s duty was to ensure the other servants got their food at the proper time. This faithful and wise servant was responsible for ensuring that they ate.

Now we don’t really know how long the Master was away, except it was “a long time”, it states that in verse 48. How long is a long time? Rochelle is away still in New Zealand, since around Christmas, about a month and a half, is that a long time? There were people who went off to the second world war, four years, some a little longer, is that a long time? There’s a story about a tradesman who went out to the hotel in a town near where I grew up, his wife had asked him to bring a loaf of bread home. When the crew of a ship who were drinking at the hotel heard he was the trade they needed for their ship, they kidnapped the nautical term is shanghaied him. He arrived home 12 years later with a loaf of bread. Long time? It is a bit of a question, but the Wise Servant did his job, let’s say for a year. The Master of the house would not have left him empty-handed, I’m sure there would have been a budget, access to funds and instructions on how he should have done his job. In addition, a Master usually doesn’t put an irresponsible person in charge. Big household, lots of servants that need to be feed, maybe there was a farm attached to the household, businesses that were providing wealth for the household. Back in the day, a household could have all these things.

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