The third servant in Jesus’ story in Matthew 25 buried his master’s talent in the ground because he was afraid. He was afraid if he didn’t perform well, he would be punished. He was afraid of displeasing his master, of making his master angry. He believed it was better to play it safe, better to minimize the potential risk, better to avoid embarrassment or loss, by just sitting on the talent and returning it to the master unharmed. That third servant was afraid.
What are you afraid of?
We are God’s children, remember? We are disciples of the Christ, right? We’re not merely talking about faith or teaching religious principles or believing theological ideas or keeping biblical rules. We are living our lives — our whole entire lives! — with God in Christ.
And we can’t be scared.
God doesn’t just give us talents. He gives us life. And the life given to us by God is not to be lived in some kind of rigid, cramped, crowded, small, compromised, legalistic way. We are empowered by God’s Spirit to live life in a full, wild, joyful, exuberant, cheerful, celebratory way. We courageously live in ways that apprehend and assimilate the freedoms we have in our Lord. Those holy freedoms radiate out of our bold actions, Christ’s commission pulsates through our radical works. It’s brakes-off, no-looking-back, full-steam-ahead salvation activity that blesses others with God’s mercy and grace.
What are you afraid of?
Are you scared that, while showing radical mercy and grace, you might mess something up? While forgiving and healing, blessing and helping others, you might make God mad? Are there rules you’re afraid you might break if you try to advance the Kingdom? Are there people you’re scared you might upset if you think outside the box?
The way I see it, a full grasp of the life we have in Christ and the grace and mercy we receive from our Father means we’re no longer afraid of messing up. We don’t hold back because of an anxiety over doing something that might displease God. At the very least, avoiding sin should not be the main thing that drives us as we partner with God in his salvation mission for the world.
Our God wants his beloved children to operate out of joy and freedom and faith to do what is good and right, not out of fear of making a mistake. Isn’t that the whole point of the story in Matthew 25? If we faithfully pursue his mission and maybe — maybe! — mess something up, he’s not going to punish us. He’s going to use it for his purposes and to his eternal glory and praise.
So, don’t just sit there on your talent. Go do something. Do something bold and outrageous, something you’ve never tried before, something for the sake of somebody else in the name and manner of our Lord. Trust God to make it work, even if you don’t see the results immediately. Have faith that God isn’t concerned about the results — that’s his job, by the way, not yours — as much as he is about your eagerness to enter his mission.
And don’t be scared. We know the Master.