Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your lord.’
Matthew 25: 21
I’ve been reading through the parable of the talents in Matthew and chewing on the concept of investing. In this portion of scripture, we see the kingdom of heaven described according to investment principles. Jesus told his disciples that there was a man who gave three of his servants some talents. (Now, this was a kind of currency, but that word, ‘talent’, causes us to consider other things we can invest, doesn’t it?) The first two servants took what was given to them, invested, and received back double. The third servant was fearful of his hard master so he took the money and hid it in the ground until his master’s return.
Of course, the master was quite pleased with the first two servants because they not only took care of what was given to them, but they increased the amount for their master. This man was furious at the third servant, though, and called him wicked and lazy and removed everything from him.
This parable gives us some investment principles:
- We all have been given varying amounts to invest. Whether I have talent, money or opportunities, I can rest assured that there will be others who will have more or less. The first two servants had different amounts of talents, yet they were both found to be good and faithful because they trusted their master and obeyed him. With whatever God has given you, use it in faith and bring Him glory.
- While comparing ourselves with others is not usually a good idea, this parable does just that. The lazy third servant is contrasted with the faithful first two. Our 21st century blood may boil at this comparison and we may want to cry out in defense for this third servant’s poor self-esteem…but, let’s look at this more closely. Why would Jesus do such a thing? Because this is Truth and when we are unfaithful to invest wisely, there are eternal consequences because it speaks deeply about how we view our Master. How are you caring for those people and things that God has given to you here on earth? How are you viewing the Master of all?
- There are times in our lives when we can take bigger risks with investing (because the returns are worth it), but there are also times when we should be more protective and cautious. For instance, we want our children’s college funds to be more conservative because if we’re taking too big of risks then they might enter college with nothing left in their fund! Slow and steady wins that race. Spiritually, there are times when we should be more protective of what we’ve been given. I only have so much time in a day, yet the “Time Wasters” often try to steal those minutes and hours and I need to be on guard so that Facebook or iPhone games don’t take away the things that God has entrusted to me. On the other hand, there are times when I need to take big risks and be a ‘fool for Christ’. Maybe I need to step out of my comfort zone and do something totally different for the Lord. I might not be able to imagine how that will work, how we could pay for it, how I could have time to do it, or how I could be protected if it is dangerous…but, if God is calling me to serve Him in a more outrageous way, I want to be obedient to Him!
- The final servant was full of fear. How often does fear paralyze us when investing? Investing money, investing time, investing in a relationship with someone. Maybe we say we’ll pray about it, but then realize that is our excuse to keep from doing anything at all. Or maybe we just don’t speak about Christ with a new friend because we fear rejection. There can be no returns when we don’t make the investments. Step forward in faith–ask God for wisdom and direction through prayer, then take that first step. “…for whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Romans 14: 23b) Do it and see how God guides you.
The first two servants pleased their master and because of that they were now able to enter into the joy of their lord. How motivating is this?!? To know that I’ve brought great pleasure and joy to God and that He brings me into this joy with Him! I want this. My prayer is that you do too. When it’s easy to get bogged down from the “here and now”, we can remember this truth and set our sights on Heaven and entering into the joy of our Lord.