Summary: Followers of Jesus cannot be irresponsible. Privilege implies accountability.
DIOGENES was one day standing on a street corner laughing like a mad man. “Why are you laughing?” He was asked. “Do you see that stone in the middle of the street? More than ten persons have already stumbled on it, then looked at the stone and cursed it but nobody had removed it to prevent someone else’s stumbling”.
Our actions whether good or evil have an ultimate significance and have effects of infinite range and scope. We stand under incalculable responsibility. We must be faithful in little things because there are no little things; we must be faithful in God’s absence because God is never absent.
It costs to be faithful. It cost Abraham the yielding of his only son. It cost Daniel being cast into the den of lions. It cost Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being put in a fiery furnace. It cost Stephen death by stoning. It cost peter a martyr’s death. It cost Paul his life. Does it cost you anything to be faithful to your Lord and King?
Read Matthew 24:45-51.
A master of a number of servants has to leave his household for undetermined length of time. He entrusts with one of his servants to manage the day-to-day duties of the household. The good servant demonstrates two indispensable characteristics: faithfulness and prudence. He is dependable because his yes is yes and his no is no. His fellow servants know that he does not break his word. They can trust him. He is also shrewd for he has a canny way of anticipating problems, of being fully prepared to meet them skilfully and solve them effectively. When the master returns he is pleased with the glowing reports he hears about the servant.
The unfaithful servant perhaps put up a show when he accepted the responsibility. The master has gone and now he reveals his true colour. He is cruel, intemperate, beats his fellow servants and indulges in excesses of food and drink. The master returns. He is shocked to hear about all that the servant did and he administers appropriate punishment.
The point of the parable is to call attention to the responsibility given to the follower of Jesus. Some followers receive greater privileges than others, but also are charged with greater responsibilities. Because each one is given his own or her own duty in the service of the Lord. No one is excluded or exempted. According to scripture scholars, the parable in Matthew’s sequences serves as an introduction to the parable of the ten virgins and talents. Everyone is accountable to Jesus.
The master of the household represents Jesus. He leaves with the promise of his return. In the absence of Jesus, his followers are given privileges and responsibilities. If the believer is faithful in the discharge of his duties, Jesus will reward him abundantly upon his return. But if he is unfaithful and behaves irresponsibly, Jesus’ return will be an unexpected event for him that results in complete separation from God’s people along with fitting punishment.
Read 1Corinthians 9:1-18
Paul is tormented by opposition from without and discouragement from within. He sets forth himself as a remarkable examples of self-denial for the good of others. His renunciation of rights to material support is attributable to his singular passion for the gospel. He was a man who was overwhelmingly in love with his job as teacher and preacher of the gospel. He calls himself a slave of Jesus who has only duties to perform and a slave has no rights or privileges except those given to him by the master. He is absorbed by the necessity to preach the gospel. It is not merely doing a duty but doing it heartily willingly and cheerfully. The question is not whether we have rights but whether they are important. Often our use of rights becomes an abuse and misuse of such rights. Only those who see their calling as a necessity laid on them can readjust their lives for the sake of the gospel. Paul’s attitude is “I would rather die than claim my rights.” “You yourselves know that theses hands have laboured for my necessities and for those who are with me.”
“Do all things without grumbling and questioning that you may be blameless and innocent children of God in the midst of a crooked generation among whom you shine as lights in the world” Phil. 2: 14-16.
Our attitude should resemble that of Jesus who said, “I have accomplished the work which you gave me to do” John. 17.4. The irresponsible servant in the parable wants to do what he likes while his master is away. He thinks that he has plenty of time before the master comes.
Knowledge and privilege always brings responsibility. Sin is doubly sinful to the man who knows better. Failure is doubly blameworthy in the man who has every chance to do well.
Let us not shirk our responsibilities nor shelve them hoping that sometime or other we would be able to fulfil them. Now is the time for action.