Don’t Live A Useless Life
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 25:25c (Holman) Look, you have what is yours.
He was wrong. The original talent was much less valuable now. Had it been given to someone else, it could have earned much more for the master. What could have been valuable and usable, had cankered and been wasted.
The value of a life not spent for God does not stay the same as years go by. Its ongoing selfishness makes a life not lived loving God and others depreciate in value. As years go by, the number of worthless hours increases daily, more and more time is wasted. The load of guilt gets heavier. Do not live life encased in yourself.
Life is like fertilizer; it doesn’t help in a heap; it has to be spread out. Distribute life. Share it with others.
Notice what was missing in the slave. He showed no humility and no regret. He blamed the master for his own failure. Beware insolent thoughts toward God, as if to say He is unreasonable and expects the impossible.
Many problems in our life would be solved if we took responsibility for them. People who sin often try to shift blame away from themselves. As long as we blame God and others, or blame circumstances, which is tantamount to blaming God, little gets resolved; our condition tends to stay the same or worsen when we flounder in self-pity. Victims are rarely victors.
Saying “I was wrong” is excruciating and tears the flesh, but saves the life. “I blame me; I accept responsibility” are wonderfully liberating words. They let us repent, which is where the spotlight of blessing shines brightest. The first of Luther’s 95 theses said Jesus meant for all of life to be about repentance. This means ever turning from our own self-confessed sins, being sorry for what we admit we have done, not for what others have done.
Many seem readily able to see guilt in others with 20/20 vision, yet rarely see it in themselves. We are wrong to expect others to blame themselves while we are not holding ourselves to the same standard.
Some of the most helpless victims are sinners who think temptation in and of itself is enough to warrant sin; “Because I want it, I should by right have it.” Sinners sometimes feel they should never be expected to sacrifice, to endure pain. They say it is unreasonable to deny themselves sinful pleasures. I call this pampered spiritual entitlement.
Matt. 25:26-27 But his master replied to him, “You evil, lazy slave! If
you knew that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I
haven’t scattered, then you should have deposited my money with
the bankers. And when I returned I would have received my
money back with interest.”
The slave was hoisted on his own petard. His own words were used against him. Had he really felt this way about the master, he would have worked harder. His lame alibi made absolutely no sense. Caught by surprise, he tried to conjure up a legitimate verbal defense on the spur of the moment.
Hear the blunt truth. The slave did not know his master at all, did not care for him one whit, and did not care what the master thought about him.
With little exertion, the slave could have made something. The Roman Empire used a money-lending system the Phoenicians had invented. It was in many ways like ours. Bankers borrowed at lower rates (often about 6%), and loaned at higher rates (often about 12%). The master would have been willing to accept a return like this. He was not harsh and unreasonable.
The slave’s rationalization was a charade. Weigh your excuses before you express them. Some use a fear of failure as an excuse to shirk their duty; this is unacceptable. Some wrongly use “going deeper into the Word” as an excuse for not delving in to help the poor. Some unwisely use the doctrine of predestination as an excuse for not evangelizing. Some err by using belief in eternal security as an excuse for being spiritually lazy. Some mistakenly use continual “praying for guidance” as an excuse for never going on mission trips. Beware lame excuses. They do not fare well in the Kingdom of God.
Matt. 25:28-29 So take the talent from him and give it to the one who
has 10 talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and
he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not
have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
God does not let us keep what we do not use. An unused arm will atrophy, as will an unused spiritual gift. They who have a talent or skill, but do not use it, may as well not have it. The Lord recognizes this fact, acts on it, and turns it into actuality. Live in such a way that we will never hear God say, “I will no longer trust you with what I gave you”.
Anything profitable to the Kingdom of God that we do not value or use has to be taken from us, and given to someone who will utilize it well. Saul proved to be an evil, unwise King in Israel; thus the throne passed to David. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day squandered their responsibility; thus Kingdom of God leadership was passed to twelve lowly disciples.
In our lives, beware the myth of believing we can stay the same. This does not happen. Gainers keep gaining; the lazy keep losing. Talents and abilities are enriched or lessened. As a result, people are responsible for their own changing state of advantage or disadvantage. A life of consecrated communion with God grows deeper and better the more it is pursued. Don’t drift away. Stay connected to the power source. His strength lets us work for Him, and the more we work, the stronger the strength He provides.
We have to wonder; why was the unused talent given to the slave who already had ten talents? To make the first slave richer? No, slaves could own nothing. This was not done to enrich the ten-talents slave.
The talent was given to him because the master knew he would use it well. This fact can help us adjust our wrong thinking about what a reward is. It is not something we are given to clutch, to tightly hold, but to use, to pass on to others. “What does God want to give through me?” is maybe a better question than “What does God want to give to me?”
Do not strive for more stuff or fame. These pale in comparison to gaining more of God’s trust, and having more influence to exert for Him. His greatest reward is to trust us with higher responsibilities, with a wider sphere of service. The best reward is what we become for Him, not what we get from Him.
Matt. 25:30 And throw this good-for-nothing slave into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The sentence may at first seem harsh, but darkness is the only element appropriate for people who spend their whole lives running away from the light. Darkness is in people long before they enter everlasting darkness.
The slave was taken away from the lights of the banquet where the other two slaves entered. Don’t live a useless life. Avoid terrible remorse. We don’t want to have to remember lost opportunities, and wasted gifts.