Read a familiar story in Matthew’s gospel this morning, but with anything but a familiar impact. Kind of how the Spirit works . . . He will convict concerning sin (Jn. 16:8).
Jesus told the story of a man who before going on a journey “called his servants and entrusted to them his property” (Matt. 25:14). Three servants were each given a certain amount of wealth with which to invest for his business. They weren’t given equal amounts, but each were given a lot. They weren’t all entrusted with the same responsibility, but the wise master gave to each “according to his ability” (25:15). They weren’t all given “5 talents” but they were all given equal opportunity.
Usually when I read the story I fixate on the first two servants. They took their treasure and traded with it and doubled it. And, when their master returned, they both heard, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (25:21,23). That’s what I aspire to hear from my Master on the day I give an account for how I invested the wealth of my time and treasure and talents entrusted to me through grace. And, thinking with “sober judgment” (Rom. 12:3), in some measure I think I might.
But as I read the story this morning, I pictured mounds in my backyard. Little hills of dirt scattered about, like those you see in a yard where gophers have found a home. And those mounds mark where spiritual treasures for investing in eternal returns are buried. Buried because of fear. They are fear mounds.
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, “Master, . . . I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.”
(Matthew 25:24-25 ESV)
The servant buried the talent because he was afraid. In his case he feared because he didn’t really know his master or the nature of his master’s business. But I was struck with this thought: Though I have invested some, maybe even most, of the treasure graced to me, if I’m honest, I know that scattered in my backyard are some fear mounds. “Talents” to be put into play that, because of my fearfulness of something or someone, I have opted to bury and have not invested.
A word that should be spoken . . . some time to be given . . . a bit of money to be spent . . . or some other heavenly provision that has not been invested for the kingdom of heaven because I don’t want to be rejected . . . or I don’t think I can do a good enough job . . . or I’m worried about maintaining a “financially secure future.” Whatever the “talent” and whatever the fear, those fear mounds are a bit of an indictment of a lack of faith and a bit of a misdirected focus.
Not such an indictment that I am so crushed by conviction that I’m sidelined. No, because “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” and “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:7-9). What’s more, though “for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, . . . later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).
You see, the Spirit who draws my attention to those fear mounds, is the same Spirit who has been given to overcome fear. He is the same Spirit who prompts me and empowers me to invest the Master’s treasure for the Master’s business. He is the same Spirit who reminds me that there is still time and I can dig up those fear mounds and tender the Master’s opportunities of grace.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord . . .
(2Timothy 1:6-8a ESV)
Time to dig up some fear mounds and invest His treasure.
By His grace . . . for His glory.