Three short stories in Matthew 25 that fit together and gave an important reminder here in our home in El Salvador and most likely your home as well.
The first story, moving backwards (verses 31-46), that I want to look at tells of the judgement of those who did, or did not meet Jesus’ needs when he was: hungry, thirsty, lonely, sick, in prison…by ministering to those in need. Here’s two key words for me: “the righteous” = those who gave, spent time, in some way helped the needy. “Brothers” “The King,” Jesus calls those in need His brothers and sisters. It is hard to interpret this any other way, then to say we will be rewarded for helping those in need.
The Second, (verses 14-30) “He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.” v. 18, “But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.” Then we see in his response when asked to give an account of his inability to save and invest, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man,..” Though “talents” were given to each person and could be interpreted many ways, the literal meaning is money, resource or something of value. The other qualifier, is that it was´t theirs. How much more freedom to risk would you experience if you believed that everything that comes through your possession isn’t really yours?
The Third, (verses 1-13) “Five of them were were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.” Oil so regularly in the Bible speaks of the presence and power of God, or the “anointing.” We all have a light to shine in this world, but the light will go dim if the supply of oil runs low.
Tying the three chords into a rope: 1) We serve Jesus by serving the needy, by seeing and responding…and we will be rewarded, most importantly by being called righteous, and having the great joy of knowing we have blessed our Jesus. 2) If we have an unhealthy fear of risk, a distorted view of our King “a hard man,” are lazy, irresponsible, or somehow feel impoverished and overlooked “I only got 1 and they got 2 or 5…” then we will fail to use what we have wisely. 3) The key lies in the first story…if in waiting for Jesus’ return, we do not keep full our reserve of oil, of the precious presence of the Holy Spirit, we will miss it.
Filling with the Holy Spirit: When filled with the Holy Spirit we see Jesus for who He is, a kind, generous, and gracious King. We see the needs around us, those who are hungry, lonely, in prison (emotional, physical and spiritual captivity) and in need. We begin to see the world as an abundant place, somewhere to risk investing in. Fear begins to fade and love invades. In all three cases, the decisions of the antagonists effected their outcome, it wasn’t a test, wasn’t a set up for failure…it was preparation for a great celebration…but some just weren’t prepared.
Today’s prayer, tomorrows action: “Lord Jesus fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Let me see You as you really are, give me overcoming faith, give me eyes to see the needs around me.”