How do most workers respond when they
arrive at work and find out that the boss is away for the day? I suspect that in most cases everyone's happy
about it. There will be, shall we say, a
more relaxed atmosphere at work that day!
Putting it another way, almost everyone is going to goof off a little more
an old saying: “When the cat's away, the mice will play.” That’s usually true. Jesus told a story about this familiar theme.
The Contrast Between Two Managers
two very different managers. First Jesus
said, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in
charge of the servants in the household to give them their food at the proper
time? It will be good for that servant
whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in
charge of all his possessions.” (Matthew 24:45-47) The owner was going away for a while, and one
of his key servants was supposed to oversee things while he was gone. Jesus described the man who was put in charge
as “faithful and wise.” He was kind to
the people he was responsible for. When
the boss suddenly returned, he found that everything was in order. The manager had done a good job, so he was
given a promotion.
the other hand, Jesus said, imagine a manager who was just the opposite. “But suppose that servant is wicked and
says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to
beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 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. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a
place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
(Matthew 24:48-51) The second manager
was like a mouse who plays while the cat's away. Instead of giving his fellow servants “their
food at the proper time” he “begins to beat his fellow servants.” He lived for himself, partying while his boss
was away. When the owner suddenly
returned, things weren’t pretty for him!
Getting the Big Picture
The basic theme
Jesus used — the contrasting ways a manager can act when the owner isn't
looking over his shoulder — was intended to help us understand the options each
of us has. God’s His presence in this
world and in our lives isn’t always obvious; it's fairly easy to ignore. God has set things up this way on purpose;
He's given us enough space that we can drift away from Him and enough slack
that we can get ourselves all tied up — or even hang ourselves!
is awesome and amazing, the creator and sustainer of everything. He’s present in all places and all-powerful,
but He gives us the freedom to ignore Him and to live as if He doesn't
exist. That's why we've been doing a
six-part series about “The Divine Elephant: Reason Enough for Embracing Today.”
the elephant in the room means ignoring what’s obvious. If God is really God and He's all-important,
our lives should be based on God's view of life for us. We should live with God in mind, living to
please Him. We shouldn’t ignore the
Divine Elephant! The writer of the book
of Hebrews in the Bible said, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's
sight. Everything is uncovered and laid
bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)
author and pastor John Piper commented on an article he saw in Reader's Digest
about a couple who took early retirement.
They live in Florida, the article
said, “where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect
shells.” Piper wrote, “Tragically, this
was the dream: Come to the end of your life – your one and only, precious,
God-given life – and let the last great work of your life, before you give an
account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day
of judgment: 'Look, Lord, see my shells.'” (Don't Waste Your Life, p.46)
great message of the Bible is that God created us to have a relationship with
Him because He loves us. Because we’re
sinful, He provided a way for us to be rescued, or saved: He sent His own Son
Jesus to die on the cross, paying the price for our sinfulness. His plan is that we work with Him to carry
out His grand scheme for everything.
Think of the price God paid so that we could be forgiven and be made
right with Him in order to carry out His grand purposes! The apostle Paul reminded us, “You are not
your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19
God is this awesome being who made us, saves us, and wants us to be a part of
His big plans, shouldn't that affect the way we live our lives? The apostle Paul wrote about his own
experience, “For Christ's love compels us, . . . that those who live should
no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised
again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
should we live if we want to take God into account in our lives more than
anything and anyone else? As much as God
really cares for me, the fact is that He also cares just as much for the other
people He's made. It's sort of like a
family with more than one child. Each
child can feel totally loved, but each child also has to realize that Mom and
Dad love the other children in the family, too!
This means that if you're going to please Mom and Dad, you have to not
only love them and treat them nicely, you have to love your brothers and
sisters and treat them nicely, too!
said as much when He declared, “My command is this: Love each other as I
have loved you.” (John 15:12) God
has put us on Earth to have a positive effect on the lives of other
people. We do that individually, and we
can also do it together.
You Can Make a Difference!
God puts each of
us into families, workplaces, neighborhoods, a church, and other places where
we can make a difference for Him.
Remember the good manager in Jesus' story? “Who then is the faithful and wise
servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in the household to
give them their food at the proper time?
It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he
returns.” Hendriksen, in his
commentary on this passage of the Bible, said that the wise manager was
involved in “active service in the interests of those whom the master has
entrusted to him.” (New Testament Commentary, p.872) Because of what God means to us, we should
serve the interests of the people whom God has entrusted to our spheres of
need to remember that God calls us to a sphere of influence beyond our comfort
zone (what’s easy for us do without much effort or sacrifice). God often calls us to reach beyond the people
we know to those who are strangers.
Isn't that the message of the parable of the good Samaritan? The Samaritan didn’t know the beaten man he
found by the road, but he helped him anyway.
are many ways that God might compel us, in love, to do something of
significance for someone we don't know.
When my home town of Parkersburg, Iowa was devastated
by a category F5 tornado last Memorial Day weekend, countless people offered
help even though they didn't know anyone in Parkersburg.
practical way to do this is to go on a short-term mission trip in this country
or beyond our borders. As more and more
people retire from my “baby boomer” generation, we need to seriously consider
the opportunities that retirement affords us.
For a Christian, retirement shouldn't be just about pampering yourself;
we should ask ourselves, “Now that I'm freed from working from 9 to 5, how can
I use some of my time to better serve the Lord?”
We Can Make a Difference Together, As a
If God is the
great and awesome God that we believe Him to be, He's too good to keep to
ourselves! We should want other people
to have what we have. We can be
comfortable with our group of friends at the church, our routines of coming to
worship, and so on, but what about all the people who don’t know God and His
Son Jesus? What about those who might
know Him but don't have a group of fellow believers — a church — to share Him
need to always reach out as a church; that’s often called evangelism. If we really have good news, we ought to
share it! As long as there's one person
beyond our church's property who doesn’t know the Lord or have a group of the
Lord's people they can call their own, we have our work cut out for us!
can't limit ourselves to the people who might join us; we should have a concern
for people who are beyond our personal reach.
Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, . . .”
(Matthew 28:19) Of the 6.8 billion
people on earth, it’s estimated that one billion have never heard about
may have some hungry people in this country, but it’s not like some places in
the world. Our concern must extend
beyond our borders. God's compassion
is why we as a church are committed to missions and benevolence. We’re supposed to reach others with the
message of Jesus, giving spiritual food to them (missions) and with physical
help (benevolence). Last year our church
invested about 17% of all that we took in for missions and benevolence. We’re supposed to be committed to reach out,
in Jesus' name, beyond our own church's local ministry!
are many people in the world who don’t know about the love of God expressed
through Jesus. There are many who don’t
have the basic essentials of life, like food, shelter, clothing, medical aid,
a scene in one of the Superman movies where Superman is floating above the
world. He hears all of the sounds on
earth: the voices of all of the people crying out. That's what God hears and sees! We should be compelled by the care and love
of our wonderful God to reach out to people near and far who need His loving
touch through us! Ironically, when we
dedicate our lives to the service of others, we’re richer for it!