The fourth in a series of lessons from Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30
For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property (Matt. 25:14). Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them (Matt. 25:19)
Although God is not bound by time, He has created parameters of time for His creatures for good and perfect reasons. If we were to think deeply about the existence and purpose of time, we would go far beyond the boundaries of a short article – the subject is profound. Here, we will point to the fact that Christians must give serious thought that “their” time in this world is a gift given by God. It is finite, and it is accompanied by an accountability that will measure our obedience – all acts of commission and omissions – against the straight edge of His Word.
In Matthew 25:14, The Master is described as one who is going on a journey. The word “journey” is typically not used to describe a short trip in distance or in time. Verse 19 helps us know for sure that it is, in fact, a long time that will transpire before the Master returns.
As stewards (every Christian is a steward), we know that the Lord has ascended to heaven and has not returned in all of His glory for approximately 2,000 years. We also know that He will return. However, we do not know when. Unfortunately, as the Lord may choose to tarry, we may be prone to lose focus on our stewardship. And as we lose focus on our work for the Lord, we inevitably grow in a focus on ourselves.
Jesus had much to say about those not focused on Him and His kingdom, and a time of accountability. Just prior to the Matthew 25:14 parable we have been studying, Jesus taught a lesson about those who are not paying attention to the things they should, and the dramatic end to the time they had to join the bridegroom:
And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matt. 25:10-13)
And in chapter 24, Jesus warned about the danger of falling into a mindset that is spiritually relaxed in the world: “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (vs. 37-39). “Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (vs. 42).
Incredibly, Jesus speaks words for us that contain the elements of time, obedience, and accountability, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes (vs. 45-46).
In each of these illustrations, Jesus talks about the return of Master and a time of accountability. However, we must remember that this is a parable and it is not intended to be an exhaustive explanation on the timing of our personal accountability to the Lord. We do not know when Jesus will return, but we do know this – each of us will certainly go to Jesus in the not so distant future. We must be careful not to assume long life and prosperity. Many will leave this world long before they reach the average life expectancy for American men and women. In Luke 12, a rich man is focused on building his wealth and says to himself, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”
A final note: In verse 16 of the parable of the talents, the Bible says, “He went at once” even though he knew the master was not going to be back for a long time. This is the heart of a faithful servant. He knows that all he has belongs to the Lord; he knows that all of his abilities are from the Lord; he knows that there are risks that he must take on behalf of the Master, and he knows he has a limited time to show an obedient and focused heart for his Master.
May God give us the strength to align our lives with the Kingdom work He has set before us.