The Steward's Risk
By Ray W. McCollum
"But his master answered, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you...
ought to have put my money in the bank, and (at least)
I would have received my money back with interest...'
"Therefore, take away the talent from him, and give it to he who has the ten talents. "For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an aubndance; but from the one who does not have, even what he has shall be taken away."
- Matthew 25:26-29
Let me tell you something I have learned about FAITH...you spell it "R-I-S-K"! Living by faith and obeying God always involves a "risk factor", or else it's not biblical faith.
"risk"-The possibility of loss or injury; peril; the chance of loss
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition
Every one of us instinctively knows about risk. Some people pay a lot of money to experience the thrill or "rush" of taking a risk. After he retired from his presidency, George Bush, Sr. took up sky-diving in his 70's! 40,000 Americans a year take up rock climbing, 25,000 "shoot the rapids" of the Colorado and millions play the lottery or the stock market. All are taking a risk. Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter", recently lost his life in an incident with a sting ray, a creature normally not considered dangerous to humans. One wildlife expert commented, "It's like being killed by a poodle". The ironic thing was that Irwin's popularity and success hinged on our fascination with risks he took, especially with the more dangerous species.
While millions of Americans will pay money this month to be frightened in one of the ubiquitous "haunted houses" of Halloween, Christians don't need to go to all the trouble. Just live for God, obey the Word and live by faith. You'll have all the excitement and sense of danger you need!
The "Parable of the Talents" is a little 3-act play, in which Jesus describes Himself as a wealthy landowner Who endows three of his stewards with varying amounts of "talent", (read "gifts", "abilities", "resources", "money", etc.), charging them with the command to "do business until I come back". In Act 2, the landowner returns for an account of how the stewards fared. Finally, in Act 3, the landowner returns and pronounces judgment on the basis of how much increase or profit each steward had achieved with what he'd been given. The parallels with the Christian life are inescapable. So what can we learn?
Lessons From The Parable of the Talents
1. Every one of us will be held accountable for our stewardship of all our resources. Nobody gets a free pass. The Lord is coming back and His is going to require an accounting of how we fared what He gave us, regardless of how much He gave us.
2. God is not a Communist. The parable is a picture of the "free enterprise system", whereby every person has the opportunity to improve his lot by hard work, diligent effort and the willingness to take a risk. The two faithful stewards "invested" what they'd been given, turned a profit, and received the commendation of their Lord.
The third steward was afraid to invest, afraid to take a risk....
"...I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground;
see, you have what is yours.
Matthew 25:25 NASB
If the landowner was a Communist, his concern upon returning would be that everybody ended up with the same, whether they'd invested or not. But Jesus takes away (even) the little bit the unfaithful steward possessed and gave it to the one who had the most!
Recently, I had occasion to preach from this passage and saw something I had failed to think about before. The difference between the stewards was how they reacted to the "risk" factor. The first two stewards knew there was risk involved in investing, but they acted in faith and took a chance. But the third steward was afraid to take a risk! He feared investment. It suddenly occurred to me that this is why some people never marry, join a church or work at developing close friendships. They are afraid! They aren't willing to make the investment. They won't risk the possibility of loss or peril.
3. The only servant the Lord didn't commend was the one who wouldn't take a risk. The first two stewards received the Lord's commendation; the third received the Lord's condemnation. I'm afraid many churchgoers fail to realize how serious God is about living by faith, investing what we have to turn a profit and our willingness to take a chance.
When we speak of the "steward's risk" we mean that we will invest our time, our abilities and our money in things that might never pay off. Life has no guarantees. I find myself investing gifts, my time and my money in relationships and in things that may not work. There is an ever-present sense of the possibility of loss or peril. But this is what God expects us to do!
The Good News is that whatever we do for God will pay off! Perhaps not now, but in eternity. If we do it for God, it will count!
"And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward."
Matthew 10:42 NASB
The life of faith is a life of risk-taking. The only one who loses will be the one who won't take a risk!