My wife and I bought an SUV, which got about 10 miles to a gallon of gas, several years ago when gas prices were still reasonable. We wanted something big and safe for when we would begin having children. Soon after we bought it, gas prices began skyrocketing.
Yeah, that was a blessing.
As gas prices climbed, it became more and more challenging to drive that vehicle. It was paid off though – and the rule of thumb is the most affordable car you can drive is the one you own – so we persevered and kept filling the tank and taking it to the garage every few months.
Then the transmission began to go out and the four-digit repair estimate brought my wife and I to the point where we knew it was time to move on to another vehicle. The only problem was that our budget did not allow for a car payment.
So to the car dealer we went. We found a car that we loved with great gas mileage and did our best to negotiate the monthly payment as low as we could get.
And then, with great trepidation of how we would find money for the monthly car payment, we signed on the dotted line.
A few minutes later we were sitting in the office of the finance person. When we told him what we were trading in, his response puzzled us.
“Oh, this is an easy one for you.”
When we shared that it really wasn’t and we were nervous about scraping the money together for a monthly payment, he asked us a series of questions.
How many miles do you drive each month? How much have you been spending on car repairs each year? What was the gas mileage of the trade-in?
A minute later he swiveled his computer monitor to face us.
“You are going to save money by buying this car.”
We were floored.
Sure enough, the money we would save on gas alone would just about cover our monthly car payment. And all I could wonder is why hadn’t I thought of this sooner and traded this vehicle in years ago! Had I only taken action sooner.
Have you ever felt that way? Ever kick yourself for waiting to act and missing out on something?
That’s what the Parable of the Faithful Servant is all about – only Jesus isn’t concerned with us missing out on something that might make our lives a little easier or better – He is concerned with us missing out on bringing God glory.
The parable is simple and straightforward, but don’t let that lead you to believe it isn’t profound.
Two types of servants are contrasted. The first is faithful in his master’s absence. the second is not. The first will be rewarded. The second will be punished. Jesus is the Master. We are His servants. We want to be the first type of servant, not the second.
Easy enough, right?
But what does it look like to faithfully serve Jesus as we wait for His return? Let’s turn to one of my favorite verses to answer that – 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.
The context of that verse is Corinthian believers wrestling with whether or not they could consume meat from an animal which had been used in a pagan ritual. You most likely don’t have that same concern, but notice how Paul amplifies his answer with the words “whatever” and “everything.” Paul doesn’t just answer how Corinthian believers should eat, he gives all believers a principle for how we should live.
Everything we do is to be done with one purpose – one goal – in mind: God’s glory.
If it brings God glory to abstain from eating that meat and explaining why – then that is what you do. If it brings God glory by eating that meat and thereby solidifying a relationship with a pagan who needed Jesus – then that is what you do.
If our love for God and gratitude for Christ compels us to obey the clear imperatives of Scripture and follow this principle in other areas, we will glorify God.
This is what Jesus had in mind when He shared the parable. He wants His followers to live faithfully by seeking God’s glory in all we do as we wait for His return.
This is at the heart of missional living. That is a term that has been used quite a bit in recent years and the problem is that it has been defined very differently. I would contend that a biblical definition of missional living is to glorify God by living every day of your life as a missionary in your context.
Where do you live? That’s your mission field. Where do you work? That’s your mission field. Where do you shop? Where do you eat? Where do you spend time with friends? Where do you vacation? All part of your mission field.
I fear that far too many followers of Jesus don’t get this and we surely don’t live it out. Instead, we wait for Jesus as if we are in a waiting room at a car dealer. We piddle around trying to fill our time with something – anything – to make the wait slightly more bearable.
Our homes are about us and our comfort. Our work is just a means to an end to make money to buy what we need and want. Stores and restaurants are just where we buy things with that money; cashiers and waiters simply instruments in the process with which we engage in minimal, superficial conversations. Vacations and friends are there to bring us some level of pleasure and enjoyment.
“Me, me, me” instead of “He, He, He.”
There is a question that echoes in my mind and heart when I allow the Holy Spirit to go to work in the fullest depths of my life. It’s a question I anticipate Jesus asking me face-to-face when I am called to be with Him. Here it is:
“So how exactly did you invest the time, resources, and relationships I loaned you, My servant?”
I want to answer Him well. I want to be faithful. I want to be on mission for Him and bring Him glory in every area of my life. I want to build gospel-centered relationships with unbelievers. I want to use the resources with which He has entrusted me to draw people to Him.
And I know you do too.
As you dwell on this parable in anticipation of teaching it to kids, consider practical ways that they can live missionally for Jesus. Consider how you can encourage and challenge them to be a student and friend at school and to capitalize on their relationships with their peers and teachers to bring God glory. Think through how you can help your kids view their spare time, involvement in sports leagues, talents, and resources for bringing God glory.
You are in an amazing position to influence this generation to develop the heart, vision, and habits of living faithfully. Be faithful in that calling!
Here is more help for leaders preparing for the February 15, 2015 session (Unit 30, Session 3) of The Gospel Project for Kids.
Brian Dembowczyk is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to LifeWay in 2014. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Brian and his wife, Tara, and their three children – Joshua, Hannah, and Caleb – live in Murfreesboro, TN, where Brian enjoys drinking coffee and teaching 1-3 graders at City Church.