Don’t Lie About God
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 25:24 (Holman) Then the man who had received one talent also
approached and said, “Master, I know you. You’re a difficult
man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you
haven’t scattered seed.”
The slave accused his master of gathering grain from harvests where he had not labored, of profiting by exploiting the toils of the poor. This was a lie. Was the master harsh, hard to please? The slaves who were given five and two talents would have instantly, resoundingly, and rightly said, “No”.
God is the most merciful Being in the Universe. Earth is full of His goodness. God is love. It is His whole Nature to give. He can’t keep from doing it. “To be and bestow are for Him one and the same thing” (Maclaren).
Our heavenly Master has proven Himself to be the exact opposite of what the slave claimed here. God has never required anything but that He provided it first. No one can ever rightly complain, “God requires more than He gives. He expects way too much; therefore I will do nothing for Him.”
He does not reap where He did not sow. Rather, He sows much where He reaps nothing. God gives and gives and gives, receiving little in return.
Matt. 25:25a So I was afraid. . .
Generally, religious people mainly love God, with fear mixed in, or mainly fear God, with little or no love mixed in. This slave feared, without loving, his master. The slave felt if he lost the talent he would receive little patience from the master, and be severely punished. Terror made him want to protect his own hide; zero love made him not want to honor his master.
The slave’s excuse was illogical. If the master was as mean as the slave claimed, he had more reason for diligence, not less. “Fear is a bad reasoner” (Maclaren). It befuddles our thinking. This is why, in our spiritual life, enhancing our love-relationship with Jesus has to be our first priority.
If wrong in our understanding of God’s attitude toward us, we will be wrong everywhere. In his play “Henry V” Shakespeare presented Falstaff as very sinful: adulterer with two married women, vain, boastful, cowardly, heavy drinker, thief. When dying, he cried out “God, God, God!” The lady tending him told him not to think of God because “there was no need to trouble himself with any such thoughts yet”. Do you see the fatal error here? In real life, God would have loved and wanted to forgive Falstaff. Assuming God would not tenderly deal with Falstaff left the sinner with no hope.
Dread makes us afraid to do anything for God; we fear doing it wrong. Don’t think harshly of God. “Do not darken your life by fear” (G. J. Proctor).
Wrong thoughts about God are the worst thoughts a mind can think. On the other hand, true thinking about God can rescue us. This is possible only if we assess God by His Word, the Bible, and not by our perceptions.
Rightly understanding God comes only from the Bible. It does teach us we need a healthy fear of God, one that consists not of terror, but of awe and respect. We are to approach God with reverential, not paralyzing, fear.
We must let love be our dominating thought about God. Otherwise, we will find Christian living a burden. For instance, we will rarely be generous. People who do not love God tend to grudge giving Him much.
Don’t believe this? Promote tithing someday. It will give you a chance to watch people bristle. It is amazing to see people bought by Jesus’ blood angered by a challenge to give 10% to the One who gave 100% to them.
We need to pause here. Let’s do our own personal inventories, and ask, is our individual perception of Christianity more about rules or our relationship with God? Do we see God as more demanding or more giving?
Wrong answers here cripple us. Terror shrivels our service; sensing God’s love for us is our only hope of doing things for Jesus well and long.
If dominated by fear, our every failure in life will threaten to end our efforts. Paralyzing fear tempts us to quit when we sin, to decide God is too strict, and to overly condemn ourselves, “I can never measure up. I give up.”
But if our attitude is dominated by God’s love for us, our sorrow for sins quickly causes a repentance that returns God’s smile to us and returns us to the fray. Knowing God loves us and wants to give us another chance helps us love Him and repeatedly go back to tasks at hand. This is essential, for our Master deserves every ounce of strength and devotion we can muster, even if it comes from hearts and hands that have failed Him often in the past.
When we blunder, ask God and anyone else we may have hurt to forgive us. Then, once our accounts are caught up to date and totally clear, return to the work, asking God to let Himself never again be a loser by us.
Has guilt made us quit? Do we feel we are done? Hear ye! A slave’s task is never to wring his or her hands in the corner of a field regretting past blunders. Our place is behind a plow. The row behind us may be crooked, but our duty now is to plow a straight row ahead. You may be saying, “But Pastor, I sinned big time”. Then repent big time and get on with doing more.
Matt. 25:25b . . . and went off and hid your talent in the ground.
He dug a hole, not knowing he was digging his own grave. By the way, one-talent people are not the only ones who bury talents. People with 5 talents can bury all 5, which is a worse, bigger waste, than burying only one.
None of us wants to repeat this third slave’s failure. To help us avoid it, we need to analyze it. What went wrong? One, he committed the crime of slothfulness. He brazenly wasted his master’s provision. The talent was not his to hide. He did not fritter his money as the Prodigal Son did. He merely disregarded his stewardship. We must learn we are stewards, not owners.
Two, maybe envy made him hold a grudge. The other slaves received five and two talents. Did he resent not being trusted with more? Benedict Arnold did not become a treacherous traitor overnight. He started to grow bitter when men younger than he was began to be promoted above him in the Continental Army. Beware envy. In that unexpected moment, when jealousy’s inner knife gores the heart, remove it instantly through prayer.
Three, maybe he felt the piddling amount the master gave him was of little consequence. Blessed are ye who never forget God notices and highly values little things, even if it is as little as a widow’s two mites. I fear we too often underestimate ourselves, saying, “My gifts are nothing; I’m a nobody.”
We can fail to see how much we are needed in the Kingdom. It is possible to feel so useless and unworthy that we bury our talents. “Multitudes go without a crown by fearing they cannot win it” (Glover).
We are not permitted to be the ultimate judges of ourselves. Paul said he did not judge himself (1 C 4:3). We will settle up accounts at the end, when the final Arbiter will accurately determine our relative weights of achievements. He may think better of us than we do. Our job is to stay at it.
Four, he pictured people who love themselves more than they love God. There were obviously other things the slave wanted to do. He knew if he spent time working for the master, he would miss out on much fun and self-interests in life. Many opt to live life without any thought of duty to God as master. Many bury any notion of serving Him. They act as if serving God is a burden. Some seek to find their pleasure totally outside His work. Their joys are not within the circle of which Christ is the center (Spurgeon).
Is there any place we go or anything we do where we have decided Christ is to be left out: golf course, job, school, gym, or dorm? We do not need to be ostentatious or obnoxious about our faith, but should always be looking for subtle ways to make sure people know Jesus is a part of anything we do wherever we are. Nothing should ever preclude Him or exclude Him.