Tag Archives: faithful

Diligence is Rewarded

In my prior post, “Listen to Understand,” I noted that listening to Jesus results in more understanding; not listening produces confusion.

This parallels Jesus’ teaching about the “talents” and the “minas” (both words refer to denominations of money). These parables, though differing in details (likely because they were given to different audiences at different times) have the same conclusion and message.

To those who invest their master’s money wisely, more responsibility (or money) is given; to those who fail to invest, what they have will be taken away.

Just as really listening to God results in more understanding of him, so too being faithful in the jobs he has given us results in greater responsibility and opportunity.

Many followers of Jesus desire to do great things for him, but before he gives us huge opportunities, we must prove themselves diligent in completing lesser tasks first.

When we are diligent in serving God, he rewards us with more.

[Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 19:11-27]

The Big Picture

As readers of the book of Job, we are privy to the whole story: Satan torments Job in an effort to prove that Job’s Godly devotion is conditional, that it is dependent on circumstances.

Job, however, does not have the luxury of this grand view.  All he knows is that his once blessed life is now in shambles.  He is in pain, and with seemingly nothing left to live for, he wants to die and end his misery.

With a limited view of God and not knowing the back-story, Job’s only conclusion is that this is God’s doing.  His perspective is to blame God.

Job lacks an understanding of God’s overarching purpose at work.  Job is unaware that once he proves himself faithful and that the enemy, Satan, is proved wrong, all that Job lost will be restored — two-fold.

In many ways we are like Job.  We lack a comprehension of God’s overarching plan and end up blaming God for our pains, our disappointments, and our anger.

If we could just see a glimpse of God’s big picture, then we would know that he in not the source of our frustration, that it lies elsewhere; we would see the reward that awaits us if we but stay on course.

Job did just that, even though he didn’t see God’s big picture.

Where’s Daniel?

You may know about Daniel, the guy noted for spending the night with a bunch of hungry lions and emerging the next morning unscathed.  The bigger story is that as a youth he was captured by an invading army, forcibly relocated to Babylon, stripped of his culture, indoctrinated with new philosophies, and forced to work for the king.  Through all this, he put God first and acquitted himself well, serving four kings from two kingdoms.

There’s a curious verse about Daniel: “Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.”

If he’s not there, where is he?

A clue is that, also occurring during the first year of Cyrus’s reign, some of the exiles are permitted to return to their homeland.  Daniel would have been in his eighties at the time, but he could have made the journey.  In fact, both Ezra and Nehemiah list a “Daniel” making the return trip.

Perhaps after years of faithful service to both God and king, Daniel is finally able to go home.

[Daniel 1:21, 2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezra 1:1-2, Ezra 8:2, Nehemiah 10:6]

Do You Want More?

Here is another thought building on the prior post about one of Jesus’ parables.

To review, the parable is about a noble man who,before going on a journey, entrusts three servants with varying amounts of money to invest for him.  The first two invest their amounts and earn a good return, apparently doubling their stakes.  The third however, to whom little is entrusted, makes no effort to invest it.  He lazily does nothing and merely returns the original amount to his master.  This is done under the guise of keeping it safe.  The master takes the money from the lazy servant and gives it to the first servant.  The people nearby protest that this is not fair.

Jesus replies “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.”

The lesson in this seems to be that to those who have been blessed with resources and have been faithful with them, more will be given.  However, to those who have not faithful with what they have, that too will be taken away.  We must be wise and faithful stewards.

A direct application of this may be for the person who is asking God for more, be it for physical provision or spiritual blessing.  Perhaps their felt lack is a result of them having already been unfaithful with what they had been given; therefore it was taken away.

The warning in this is that perhaps we shouldn’t ask God for more if we have misused or squandered what he has already provided.

[Luke 19:11-27]

God as the Master

The next word picture for God, is him as the master and we as his servants.

With God as our master we see him as being in charge; he is the boss and directs our activities.

Extending this image to us, there is a need to follow directives, to listen to him and obey him.  We do have a choice (free will), however, and can choose to not obey, but that would make us to be an unfaithful servant.

Also, there is also the reminder that we can only truly serve one master: God or something else: be it money, things, a job, a person or relationship, amassing power, attaining prestige, or even leisure.

[Matthew 6:24, Matthew 10:24, 1 Samuel 3:10, Matthew 25:21]

Is This a Test?

The Bible is chocked full of strange and perplexing tales.

One such story is when God tells Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.  What father in his right mind would kill his son?  However, Abraham is intent on obeying God regardless of the cost.  Three days later we find him up on a mountain, with Son Isaac tied up and laying on the alter.  With knife in hand, Abraham raises his arm, ready to plunge the dagger into Isaac.  Just then, God says in effect, “Wait, don’t do it; I was just seeing if you would really obey me.”  Wow, that was close.  Then God provides a ram to be sacrificed instead of Isaac.  Abraham proved himself faithful to God, and Isaac was spared.

Fast forward several centuries to Jesus.  Jesus is himself getting ready to die; he is going to be sacrificed.  Surely, he knows the story of Abraham and Isaac; every Jew knows that story.  I suspect he is wondering if his loyalty and obedience to God is being tested just like Abraham, for he says, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

However, God didn’t say, “Hold on, this was just a test of your obedience”; there was no one else to take his place.  It was Jesus’ job and his purpose to die for the wrongs of the world in order to make us right with God.

Jesus obeys; Jesus dies; we live.

[Genesis 22:1-14 and Luke 22:42]

Five Trustworthy Sayings

The phrase “trustworthy saying” occurs five times in the Bible.  It likely refers to phrases that were commonly used and accepted by the early church.  Paul’s inclusion of these phrases in his letters affirms them as reliable truth.  Here are the five “trustworthy sayings” that Paul recorded:

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position.

Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.

If we die with him, we will also live with him.
If we endure hardship, we will reign with him.
If we deny him, he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.

When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

[from 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 Timothy 3:1, 1 Timothy 4:9, 2 Timothy 2:11, and Titus 3:8]