I spent some time in Matthew 25 today and walked away completely challenged. I’ve previously read through this chapter several times, but there were truths that jumped off the page at me like never before. That’s just one of the many things I love about God’s Word. First of all, there is this short phrase repeated numerous times throughout Jesus’ teaching in the gospels that in the past I have not given adequate attention to. “The kingdom of heaven will be like”…Just reading it again now causes my ears to perk up. Whenever God enlightens us through His Word on what to expect about our future eternity with Him, we should be all ears. He gives us numerous insights into the kingdom and what it will be like, and leaves us with the exhortation to bring His kingdom to this earth. What, my friends, are we doing with that call?
That is the question that I’ve been wrestling with as I’ve again studied this portion of His Word. Matthew 25 starts with the parable of the ten virgins, leaving us with the clear warning to live our lives ready to meet our maker. Be ready at all times, for His return is not known to anyone. Despite man’s feeble attempts to pinpoint the day and hour of Jesus’ return, we are told in Scripture that this piece of information will not be known to any of us. We are to be prepared to see Jesus face to face today, tomorrow, and the next day. Our day to day lives should reflect the faithfulness that He calls us to. Are you prepared? Do you know whom you serve, whom you worship?
Now we move into the second portion of Matthew 25 and are challenged even further. As we read through the parable of the talents, I’m reminded again of a few simple truths. First, it is simply not enough to be prepared in our waiting. We must be actively waiting. As in this parable, God has given each of us different talents, gifts, and abilities that He has entrusted to us to be used for His kingdom here on earth. These have not been given to us to do nothing with or to reject simply because we’d prefer different gifts or “greater abilities”. God, in His divine wisdom and perfect will, appropriately placed gifts into the lives of each believer to be used for His glory. To meet Jesus at the cross and then spend the rest of your life in “the safe zone”, knowing that you’ve been saved but doing nothing with your redeemed life to further His kingdom is not the life of faithfulness that Christ has called you to. To be prepared in our waiting for His return is not enough. We must be active in our waiting, both embracing and employing the gifts and talents that God has given us. What are you doing with what you’ve been given?
Secondly, we lose correct perspective on the kingdom when we compare the gifts we’ve been given with others’ gifts and talents as opposed to using the gifts we’ve been given to bring the kingdom of heaven down to earth. The three servants in this parable were each given different amounts from their master. The point I believe we miss here is that even the one who was only given one talent was still given multiple times more than the estimated annual wage for a servant like himself. Each was given an enormous amount to steward. Likewise, each of us have been given great amounts of talent, ability, energy, time…all of which were intended to be used to further God’s kingdom. Again I ask, what are you doing with what you’ve been given? Does it seem comparably small in relation to what’s been given to your neighbor? Get your eyes off of them, and place them back on Jesus, the One who gifted you and the One who will equip you to do what He’s called you to do with what He’s given you. Don’t fear failure, like the servant who buried his talent. It is God who will see you through to the completion of what He’s asked you to do with what He’s given you. He cannot fail.
Lastly, we move to the final portion of Matthew 25: The Final Judgment. Many of us cringe at just the title, but read on and be encouraged by yet another challenge we receive from God’s Word. As I stated before, we must be active in our waiting for Christ’s return. If we’ve accepted Christ in faith as our Lord and Savior, we’re prepared. We’ve responded to His call of salvation, and by grace we have been saved. But what have you been doing since that moment? What have you done with the grace you’ve received? Have you shown that grace to others? Have you used the gifts and resources given to you to meet the needs of those less fortunate? Jesus, lovingly and joyfully, welcomes into His kingdom those who have fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed in the stranger, clothed the naked, visited the sick and the imprisoned. Here’s the point. Works don’t save us, faith in Christ does. It is our works, however, that are the fruit of saving faith. My pastor from Chicago always said it so well: “If your faith hasn’t changed you, it hasn’t saved you.” Think about that. The grace you have come to know in Christ Jesus should compel you to love others as He has loved you, those that are undeserving just as you are.
It is simply not enough to claim the name of Jesus but do nothing with that claim. So, I ask again, what are you doing with what you’ve been given?