"After a long time, the master of those servants returned."
Time protracted. Time extended with chance and purpose. The last servant must have seen sound prospects and investment occasions during such a prolonged period. The first two servants set out immediately, with unbridled enthusiasm, but a rush process clearly wasn’t a dictate. We have been given the grace to develop our talents obediently, but patiently. Yes, we are to set about the divine task "at once," but sufficient opportunities to grow the resources, to multiply them abundantly, will be presented along the straight path promised. Some risk is required, but there is no course prescribed for panic investments and desperate choices. The risk comes in the form of simple steps of faith, not mindless gambles and irrational impulses.
The master "returned and settled accounts with them."
A day of inevitable reckoning comes to us all. For those who don’t believe, it will be the ultimate hour of judgment and condemnation. Wrath will justifiably be released and torment will ensue. For the faithful, it will be a time of evaluation and reward, a testing of the works of service we were created to do in joyous response to unmerited salvation and justification. They will be put to the flame to reveal an instantaneous and conclusive result. Worthless works, inaction, and omission will find their end as smoldering embers, a simmering reminder of lost time, lost intent and lost application. Works of edification and consecration will remain eternal and be generously rewarded. Crowns will accompany glorified bodies as we share in the joy of the Master and listen to the commendation we wait a lifetime to hear…
"The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. "Master," he said, "you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more." Can you hear the excitement in the presentation, the exhilaration of serving and producing for the master? Like the child beckoning to his mother to watch him go down the slide by himself for the first time. See, Father, and delight in your servant. The patent expectation was to make a gain and the servant proudly presented one, relishing in the knowledge of imminent approval.
…"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!"
The same sweet words of zeal and acclamation resonate for the second servant. "See…well done…good and faithful…you’re in charge of many things…come and share!" A wonderful echo of worthy affirmation and jubilation. The servants had full comfort in their knowledge of fulfillment. They were congruous with their master’s desire. They never had to ponder if they were of good measure. They never had to cognitively wrestle as to whether they could have attained even more. They had been obedient. They had achieved the mystically-symbolic full return. Now they would receive the ultimate satisfaction and participation. Now they would be given much more to steward and now they would experience and be imputed with the joy of their master.
As we apply our talents, we are given more and greater opportunities for their application. They are supported and complemented as we faithfully exercise them. For the pianist, the penchant for the keys becomes the accompaniment at the local assisted-living center…that becomes the participation in the weekly congregational service…that becomes the invitation to join the professional ensemble and the realization of dreams. As we obediently partake in the opportunities to serve and edify, we are provided with more occasion and more ability.
To be continued…
(Image: "Beyond the Spears," Paul Myhill, 2001)