Summary: This expository sermon, written for a special Scout Sunday service attended by a troop of local Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, encourages Scouts (and Christians) to do their best in service of Jesus so they will hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Do Your Best: Scout Sunday
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 2/3/2012
Most of you are probably familiar with the Boy Scout motto—always be prepared. You might not be as familiar with the Cub Scout motto though, which is—do your best! That’s not just good advice for Scouts; that’s biblical advice for life!
The Bible says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV). And then in the New Testament: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord not for men” (Colossians 3:23 NIV). I really like the Message translation of this verse, which says, “Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God” (Colossians 3:23 MSG).
Each of these verses is speaking a quality of the heart—willingness to it give your all, to go the extra mile. In athletics, we applaud it. In academics, we award it. In character, we admire it. In craftsmanship, we pay extra for it. In business, we promote it. In death, we eulogize it. In Christianity, we strive for it.
We strive to do our best because we know that God rewards effort, excellence and endurance. The promise is found in Ephesians 6:8, which says, “The Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does…” (NIV). One of these days, in the presence of everybody we’ve ever met, and everybody we’ve never met, the Bible says we will receive the praise of God. Those who never heard the cheers of men will hear the applause of heaven. The small will be great. The forgotten will be remembered. The unnoticed will be crowned and the faithful will be honored.
What will God be looking for on that day?
I think the answer to that question is revealed through a short story told by the Master story-teller, in Matthew 25:14-30. It’s commonly called the parable of the talents. Jesus starts the story by telling of a King who went on a long journey, but before leaving he called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver (also known as “talents”) to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. Then he left on his trip.
When he returned, he discovered that the servant with one talent had done nothing with what the King had given him, but the servants with five and two talents had doubled their money. So the King was full of praise and said to these two, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:21 NLT).
I think the words of the King in this verse tell just what God will be looking for on that day of reward and what it means to do your best!
First, doing your best requires effort.
Notice that God didn’t say, "Well said," "Well thought," "Well supervised," or "Well criticized." He said, "Well done." The Bible is a book about doing (words like do, deed, deeds, and done occur in the New Testament 589 times—more than twice per chapter). A Chinese proverb says, "Be first in the field and the last to the couch." Even a mosquito doesn’t get a slap on the back until he starts working.
Just like the servants in the story, God has given each of us a variety of talents and he expects us to use them. You weren’t created just to eat, breathe, and take up space. God put you on this earth to make a contribution.
The first two servants were rewarded because they had done something with the talents the King had given them. But listen to the third servant’s excuse: “Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth” (Matthew 25:24-25 NLT). This servant did nothing what the talent he was given because he was afraid to fail. Rather than try and fail, he chose not to try at all.
His fears were unfounded though, because God knew exactly what he was capable of. In the parable Jesus said, “Each was given money based on his ability” (Matthew 25:15 GWT). God knows what you’re capable of, too. The Bible says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).
You are God’s handcrafted work of art. You’re not an assembly-line product, mass-produced without thought. You are a custom-designed, one-of-a-kind, original masterpiece. God carefully mixed the DNA cocktail that created you and God never wastes anything. He wouldn’t have given you abilities, interests, talents, gifts, personality, and life experiences unless he intended you to use them for his glory. Long before you were born, God had a to-do list for your life.