Two out of three servants in the parable Jesus told in Matthew 25 worked to double their money. And they found favor in the master’s eyes.
The third one? Not so much. This “wicked, slothful, and unprofitable servant” dug a hole and buried his master’s money. (I love the King James version here!) And when the master returned, he ordered that this servant be thrown
into outer darkness.
What strikes me when I read about this servant is that the servant defended himself by saying “I was afraid.”
Fear is such a powerful motivator.
Fear keeps us from loving a wayward child with tough love.
From stepping out in faith.
From risking it all.
From finishing what God has called us to do.
From drawing a boundary that keeps us healthy— and stops us from enabling others.
Fear also keeps us from starting a new ministry.
From venturing into that neighborhood for outreach.
From confronting a teacher who will not align with our vision.
This third servant must’ve been afraid of losing it all. If the master returned to find the servant’s hands empty, the servant feared there would be severe consequences.
The opposite was actually true.
The master returned and discovered that the servant acted in fear rather than a clear understanding of who the master
was. Didn’t you understand who I am? the master asked.
For the other two servants, the master praised them for their faithfulness—not for the results.
One acted out of fear and lost sight of who the master was; the other two worked faithfully for “a long time.”
It’s easy to lose heart when we’ve served for a long time. Perhaps ministry is something that you now feel you could do in your sleep—you’ve been doing it for so long. You do the same thing over and over and over. It may feel impossible to remain faithful under these circumstances.
But that’s what we’re called to—faithfulness with what God has given us. Faithfulness because we understand whom we serve.
Two servants understood what the master was like; one didn’t.
Which one are we most like?
— Christine Yount Jones