Over the past few weeks I have read a number of blogs which deal with works versus grace, once saved always saved, and so forth. It always seems like these blogs stir up a lot of "discussions" within the Body of Christ. At least, that's what the participants call them. To those not involved they look remarkably like arguments. Not just to Christians but to non-Christians. In fact, that is one of the major criticisms the world has in regards to Christianity. They say that we preach a message of love and yet we cannot even get along with ourselves. No wonder so many reject the message of the Gospel!
While pondering these "popular discussions" this morning, I thought about a parable Jesus told. Not Paul or one of the other Apostles, but Jesus. I believe the writers of the Bible were inspired by God. I take the whole Bible very seriously but when it is something specifically said by Jesus during His earthly ministry, well... I think we need to listen even a bit more carefully.
In the 25th chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells of a man who is going on a long journey. He calls his servants and entrusts them with some talents which is money. As a side note, I researched this once and found out that yes, we do get our English word "talent" directly from this story.
He gives one servant five talents, the second servant four talents and the third servant one talent. When he returns, he calls his servants into his presence to give an account of what they did during his absence. The first servant took what was given to him and multiplied it. Not content to just sit idly around, he got busy and set about trying to earn more money. Not for himself, mind you, for it wasn't his money. It was his masters. He now had 10 talents to present to the master. The same thing happened with the servant who had only two talents. He too, was busy about the master's business, taking what he had and multiplying it. It is said that in order to make money you must spend money. You must take risks one way or another and this is what these men did. They did not produce a profit by sitting around at home, consuming the masters goods.
Finally, the master came to the third servant. This man hid the talent. He claimed he was simply keeping it safe until the master could reclaim it. When I was a young child, I thought that was a safe and reasonable thing to do and I could not understand why the master was so angry at the third servant. I am no longer a child and because I do not think like I child... I understand.
Though the master was away, his business continued and the overseeing of that business was entrusted to his servants. He expected to see economic growth while he was gone. Two of his servants did exactly what he expected them to do. They labored for him and produced and presented to him the fruit of their labor. One servant did nothing.
Now at this point a lot of people will say, "Well, his talent was taken away from him so he just didn't get his reward, that's all. He still gets to remain a servant. He just does not have a reward."
Well, if that's so, how do you explain these verses?
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.- Matthew 25:29-30 (NIV)
The word translated in the KJV as "unprofitable" is "achreios" which means useless, good for nothing. Weeping is translated from the word "klauthmos". This is more than just simply crying. It is wailing, lamenting. You are experiencing great pain and grief. Gnashing of teeth is a phrase which refers to extreme anguish and despair while enduring eternal punishment in hell.
I find this a very sobering story. He who was once a servant is stripped of his position and cast out into darkness and torment. The picture is chillingly clear.
Perhaps we would do well to put aside arguments which only stroke our own egos of being right and do little to further the Kingdom of God. Such arguments (we call them "discussions") do little to glorify God and indeed, distract us from our real work. Our job in this world is not to argue with one another about whether or not people can fall from grace, on which day should we go to church, what sort of clothes we should wear to church, or how perfect we are. It is to share the gospel, the good news, of Jesus Christ with a world which needs Him. This is what being about the Father's business is all about. Are we doing it?