Many of us are familiar with the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25.14-29. In this parable, a master gives three servants varying amounts of money to take care of while he is away. The first two servants used their funds to advance their master’s holdings, while the third servant buried his, returning to the master exactly what he had originally been given. The master was pleased with the results of the first two servants and very unhappy with the third. He expressed his pleasure to the first two servants with a similar statement, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
There are a number of lessons we can learn from this passage. I want to focus on one: The reward for a job well done is more work.
Verses 21 and 23 read the same: “You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things,” and verse 28 reads “Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.” Here we see that the reward for a job well done is more work.
The master commended the first two servants for their job well done. He invited both to enter into the joy of their master. We are not told precisely what that joy was, or how it was to be experienced, but I can only imagine the joy of the Lord is highly desirable. What he did not tell them is also significant. He did not tell them to take it easy. He did not tell them to take a vacation. He did not tell them that their workload would be lightened. In fact, he told them just the opposite: You have done well. I will give you more to do well at.
How often, after a big project is complete, do we want to sit back and take it easy? Yet our attempt to take it easy is met with a slew of work that still needs to be done. We grumble and complain that there is no rest for the wicked without realizing that God’s plan, God’s reward system, includes a never-diminishing amount of work. Discouraging? Perhaps. But just as the master in the parable gave each servant according to his abilities, so does God. The work He asks will be no more than what we are able to do and for as long as we are able to do it. This point is not a rationalization for workaholism. There must be balance in our lives and especially with our families. God will not be pleased if we have accomplished great things yet neglected our spouses and children.
Balance is the key. God is not a harsh slavemaster who will work us until we drop dead from exhaustion. Nor is He a hedonistic ruler who wants His subjects to focus solely on self-indulgent pleasures. Vacations and times of relaxing are important parts of recharging and preparing for what is next. And what is next is very often more work and greater responsibility.
Each of us has the same choice faced by the servants of the parable: use what has been given to us, or suffer the judgment of not even trying. God has given us talents – spiritual gifts – to accomplish His work and He has warned us that a job well done will be met with still more work.
Are we willing to do what is required to hear the praises of the King? Are we willing today to do those things that will allow us tomorrow to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? Is our desire to experience the joy of the Lord strong enough to be willing to do whatever the work, in both scope and amount, the Lord calls us to?
What does balance between work and rest look like for you over the summer? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear.
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