They were engaged in a heated discussion. The onlookers were alarmed and wondered why was this debate escalating to such heights of tension? Everyone knew that both Christian servants were heavily involved in the service of the church, yet they had diagonally opposing points of view.
You see, Roger kept blaming Bob for directing his donations and efforts to other people and churches rather than giving his all to the church where he serves and prays. Roger considered that disloyalty and selfishness. He even went as far as to accuse Bob of being manipulative and arrogant. Yet Bob had a completely different point of view. He thought blind loyalty could be detrimental. He believed that the church where he served and prayed had misappropriated the funds entrusted to her and that other members of the community and even other churches needed the donations more and used it in a more appropriate and efficient manner.
I watched them go at it for a while and when it became clear that neither would be able to sway the other’s views, I quietly took my leave. In fact, I walked away from the discussion with a troubled heart. Which one of them had the right opinion? When I arrived home, I decided to get some guidance from the source… the Holy Bible itself. After all, this is the overriding opinion. I kept searching and hoping that the Lord will give me a hint where to find the answer. Finally, I reached…Mathew 25: 14-46…* whoa…well. Here is… the clear voice of God.
The Lord in his kindness mentioned the three stewards and said nothing about the fourth one. He mentioned the honest and hardworking first and second stewards. Each worked to the best of his ability. It was evident, the Lord never overloaded any one with burdens he could not carry…he knew each one’s talents and handed out the responsibilities according to those talents. More was expected back, from the one who was given more. Yet the third steward who was given the slightest responsibility of one talent, and was certainly given the ability to use it wisely if he chose to, he went and buried it under tons of disingenuous excuses. Now look what fate awaited that miserable fellow. Mind you, he did not lose the talent, but he did not use it appropriately as was expected of him. That by itself qualified him to perdition and doom. Now think with me about that fourth steward who might have been mentioned in this story… and who would certainly have a place at the end of this group. That… would be the steward who might have been given a single talent – or more, based on the capabilities afforded him by the master – and instead of trading in it properly; he would have gone out and squandered his master’s talents in a frivolous manner. Think for a moment if that steward began to spend lavishly on his own interests and had little consideration for the interests of his master and his children, just what would be the fitting punishment for such steward in light of the treatment of the third one? I tremble and shudder in fear for the mere thought.
Therefore, at the end I realized, the master will charge everyone with responsibility concomitant with the talents given to him or her. I shall not answer to Roger, or Bob But rather to the Master who will pass judgment on me as well as on Roger and Bob. I have to be absolutely careful with the talents in my possession, as my fate will depend on it. Being merely passive is not an option. It can lead to a rather horrible end. Squandering what I was given…well, that can be devastating beyond human comprehension. At the end, there is no alternative to hard honest work to promote and develop the interests of the master who has entrusted me with those talents in the first place.
Now, comes the nagging question… How do I know if I am squandering my talents or promoting them? When I invest a large sum of money on a beautiful painting of the Master, would I be squandering this money? May be I should look at it this way…If my brother was hungry and I went for the painting instead of feeding him or helping him to find a way to feed himself, then I am squandering the money. If my brother is in prison and I choose to throw a party in honor of a beloved saint instead of bailing my brother out or hiring a lawyer to defend him, I would be squandering the money. Well, you may ask about the woman with the expensive alabaster flask of perfume. I think the answer would be… When she broke the alabaster flask of expensive perfume to anoint the Lord, he approved it in a qualified way saying, “the poor are with you always….” Yes indeed the poor are with us always and what do we do about it? He had demanded that we feed him…clothe him…visit him and help him…and told us exactly how to do it… do we remember?
What was the worst offense of the Pharisees? They took care of the little superficial matters, and ignored or neglected the major responsibilities. It is evident that the end result of ignorance and neglect is one and the same. Those illustrious trustees of the law should have done both, setting the proper priorities and doing what is essential first. Besides, even when they did what was expected, they did it for the wrong reasons. They did everything to satisfy their ulterior motives and worse yet, to get personal credit for it.
In the final analysis, I think that neither Roger nor Bob got it quite right. First and foremost, neither one should judge the other of his approach. On the other hand, I myself should not fault either of them. Each of us will be responsible for what he does with his talents. None of us can present an acceptable excuse saying somebody else made me do it. No matter who that somebody else might be. If you do not believe me, ask Peter when the chief priests demanded that the disciples stop preaching the Gospel…
You see, it is very comforting to know that the Lord already knows. In other words, as the psalmist says, “He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see? He who taught men knowledge, does He not know?” Indeed, for Him No explanations are needed or required. No one can fool him either. He already sees the inner most chambers of our hearts and minds. Everything is exposed and clear before him. He is my boss, your boss and the boss of both Roger and Bob and everyone else. For those who have nothing to hide, this mere fact is so reassuring and pleasant, yet, woe to him who is a steward of the third kind. As for the most miserable, steward of the fourth kind… whew… I do not think words can explain the level of suffering awaiting him at that big day of recompense.
also Matthew 7: 21-23