For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.
In the final verses of Jesus’ parable of the talents, we find a word of warning, a word of challenge, and a word of encouragement.
First of all, the word of warning is in Matthew 25:30: “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Does the place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” sound familiar to you? It’s hell. In Matthew 13, these are the same words Jesus used to describe the destination of phony Christians. This slave not only has his talent taken away from him, but he is cast into hell.
“Wait a minute,” you may say. “If I don’t use the opportunities God has given me to serve Him then I am in danger of eternal separation from God?” What Jesus is saying is this: one way to distinguish a true believer from a fake believer is by his willingness to serve Christ. To say you have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, but then spend your life serving yourself doesn’t cause you to lose your salvation; it reveals you were never saved to begin with. You’re a fake, a phony believer. That’s what Jesus is saying.
Let me illustrate it for you. Let’s say one day I was watching CNBC, and a financial expert said, “The dollar is going to plunge in value. On December 31, the dollar will be declared worthless. Therefore, you better trade all the paper money you have now for gold.” I believe him. So I order every book from this financial expert, I subscribe to his newsletter, and I am convinced that on December 31 the dollar will be declared worthless. Every Sunday I work it into the sermon: “You better do something with your money, because on December 31 your paper currency will be worthless.” Week after week, people ask me, “Pastor do you really believe that?” “Oh yes, I believe it.” And sure enough, December 31 comes around, and the dollar is declared worthless. Everybody who is holding paper money loses everything—including me. Because you see, even though I said I believed this was going to happen, and even though I warned you it was going to happen, I didn’t believe it enough to exchange my own paper money.
The Bible says there is coming a day when everything you have in this life is going to be declared worthless. And if you want to be prepared for that day, then you had better start changing your currency right now into eternal currency. You better start investing in eternal things. To say you believe, and not to act, is really not to believe at all. And that’s what Jesus is saying here. A true believer is going to invest his life in the things he says he believes in.
Second, there is a challenge in this passage. Given the brevity of this life and the length of eternity, start investing your time, your money, and your opportunities in building God’s kingdom. Why? Because one day we are all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. We’re all going to be rewarded by what we’ve done in this life. I encourage you to see what opportunities and gifts God has given you. You may be able to teach a Bible class. Your gift may be the gift of encouragement. You may have technological ability. Whatever your gift, there is a place for you in the body of Christ.
Finally, I find a word of encouragement in this parable. Yes, we are going to be judged one day by God. But our judgment will be highly personalized. We’re going to be judged by what God has given us—not according to what He has given somebody else. And to me that is really encouraging. I know that when I stand before the judgment seat of Christ, I’m not going to face the same judgment that Billy Graham faces. God has not given me Billy’s gifts nor has he given me his opportunities. God is going to judge me by the unique gifts and opportunities He has entrusted to me. This parable is an encouragement to us to take whatever we have been given and invest it in eternity.
Between today and the day you die, you are going to invest your life in something. The only issue is, are you going to invest your life doing what matters most?
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Talent Search,” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.