We all seek approval in some shape or form
Perhaps it’s a longing to please parents, or even a boss at work. It’s human nature to want the reassurance that we’re doing the right things, and making good decisions. We often place so much emphasis on earthly success rather than focusing on what we’re layinIg up for eternity. For many, we’d rather hear, “Great job!” from a peer right now than wait for, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant:” (Matthew 25:21) from our Lord.
In Matthew 25, the parable of the talents, the master gives talents to his servants and then follows up with them to see what they did with the talents. Two of the servants receive a “thou good and faithful servant,” (vv. 21, 23) when they bring an increase, and one of the servants receives a “Thou wicked and slothful servant,” (v. 24) when he hides his talent in the earth. While we often focus on the talents, it’s important to remember the people as well. The difference between the “good and faithful” and the “wicked and slothful”, is all in how they served.
A person serving
Servant. From the Old French “servir” (meaning to serve), the word servant literally means a person serving. Christ is our most formidable example of what it means to be a servant. During His earthly ministry, He served God in absolute loyalty, humility, and love. Consider how Christ, in the last hours before His death on the cross, took a towel and basin and washed the feet of His disciples. Surely there were other ways He could have occupied His time before He died, but this act of servitude was vitally important. As Jesus said in John 13:15, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” We are called to be servants.
What matters most
What matters is not our intelligence quotient, or our looks, or our money, or the letters behind or before our name. To hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” what matters most is our heart. Are we walking in humility and love for our Lord and what that involves? Spurgeon said, “It is not ‘Well done, thou good and brilliant servant;’ for perhaps the man never shone at all in the eyes of those who appreciate glare and glitter. It is not, ‘Well done, thou great and distinguished servant;’ for it is possible that he was never known beyond his native village.” The other thing that it is not, is “Well done, thou good and faithful Director.” Or Manager. Or Mother. Or Farmer. Or Philanthropist. It is simply, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Jesus said that no man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Paul reiterated this in his letter to the churches of Galatia. “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10). We can hide our talents in the earth, or bring an increase. We can seek approval, or serve after Christ.