Another Word…by Gus Keiser

May 7, 2018

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!

                                                                                                                             Matthew 25:21

 Do you see yourself as being successful? Have you achieved the goals you may have set for yourself in life?  Unfortunately, so many people strive for success and never attain it, at least not to their satisfaction.  But hey, all we’ve got to do is turn on our televisions or computers and we’re able to purchase success in so many ways.  The marketplace is flooded with products that promise us instant success in everything from weight loss to financial freedom.  Our schools promise their students success by claiming to produce well-educated students who will succeed in college and the working world.  And there’s even a promise floating around that says if you are successful in work, business, education, sports, or the arts, you will have lived a successful life.  If that promise even contains a shred of truth, then sign me up!

Sadly, this false idea of success has also managed to infiltrate the church in almost every aspect. The measure of success for many of today’s churches is determined by the number of people on its membership rolls, Sunday morning attendance figures, the size of its staff, or by the number of people who answered an altar call for commitment and prayer.  It’s with this knowledge that we need to remember that churches aren’t called to be “successful” in the same way that success is measured in our secular world.  Instead, churches are called by God to be faithful.

In the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus offers up a parable about three servants who’ve been given responsibility over differing amounts of money, or “talents”.  Two of the servants used what they were given by the Master and made some profit; however, the other one, out of fear of his Master, buried his talent in the ground, returning only what had been given to him when the Master returned.  The servants who invested their talents and brought a greater return were described as “good and faithful,” while the one who hid his talent was described as “wicked and slothful.”

Using today’s standards, there would be those who would describe these first two servants as being “successful”. Jesus, however, simply described them as “faithful”.  Are the two completely separate?  Not necessarily.  Faithfulness can often bring with it success, but more importantly, faithfulness carries with it an eternal reward.  So does this mean that we’d be foolish to strive for successfulness in our ministry to others?  Not really.  Perhaps the better goal for our lives would be to strive to be faithful.  Christ calls us to excellence and to invest whatever we’ve been given, both as a church and personally, for his kingdom.  Therefore, when we’re faithful, God can bring about whatever type of success he desires.

Lord, may our measure of success in this life come about by serving you in faithfulness and in love. Amen.

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