Let’s start by looking at the parable of the talents from Matthew chapter 25 starting in verse 14, “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey. He called his own servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent, depending on each one’s ability. Then he went on a journey. Immediately the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more. In the same way the man with two earned two more. But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five talents approached, presented five more talents, and said, “Master, you gave me five talents. See, I’ve earned five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy. The man with two talents also approached. He said, “Master, you gave me two talents. See, I’ve earned two more talents. His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy. The man who had received one talent also approached and said, “Master, I know you. You’re a harsh man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed. So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours. His master replied to him, “You evil, lazy servant! If you knew that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I haven’t scattered, then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and I would have received my money back with interest when I returned. So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw this good-for-nothing servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
We talked in episode 42 about not producing fruit like that last guy in the talent parable we just read, but in this podcast we’re more focusing on being the first or second servant who took what they had been given and doubled it. Romans 12:11 says, “Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord.” And James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.”
But, we’re talking about more than just prayer here though, Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.” The first servant who got five talents and the second servant who got two talents, they both knew what the third servant knew about their master. That he was a harsh man, that he reaped where he hadn’t sown, that basically this was a rotten fellow who did anything he wanted to do, pushed people around, and forced the world to work for him. And yet, they prized what he had given them and they took care of it the right way. Whatever it is that you do professionally; police officer, teacher, psychologist, data analyst, it doesn’t matter what your job title is, you should be doing that job as if God himself came to you and said, “Hey, what I really want you to do for this next season of your life is to serve in this job.”
Then there’s this next scripture that has always vexed me. 1 Thessalonians 4:11, it says, “Seek to live a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands.” I was raised, experienced, and believed that the call of a Christian was to go out and raise your voice, disrupt the status quo, and fulfill your ministerial calling for the Lord!
The August after I graduated from high school, while my contemporary peers were headed to college, I showed up for an immersive internship with a ministry that hosted missions’ trips, organized large youth rallies all across the country almost every weekend, and had a year-long discipleship training program. The ministry was Teen Mania and the discipleship program was The Honor Academy. I and about 400 others were starting this year long journey to getting to know God better, serving a ministry that was disrupting the status quo, and finding out exactly what it was that God wanted me to do to change the world.
I show up on the first day and we had these three tier bunks in every dorm room. Two of them, so six of us in each dorm room. I lay down in my bed, and I look up, and this scripture has been written in sharpie on the underside of the bunk above me by the person who slept in that bed for the previous year’s internship. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, except is was from the KJV, “Study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.” At first I thought it was a mistake, surely the bible didn’t actually say this. So I looked it up, and sure enough there it was. It was honestly the first time that I ever came across a scripture and felt challenged.
Even the Apostle Paul worked throughout his time in ministry though 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 says, “For you yourselves know how you should imitate us: We were not idle among you; we did not eat anyone’s food free of charge; instead, we labored and toiled, working night and day, so that we should not be a burden to any of you. It is not that we don’t have the right to support, but we did it to make ourselves an example to you so that you would imitate us.”
This life that we’ve chosen as Disciples of Christ isn’t one that excludes us from the systems of the world. And having a secular job doesn’t exclude you from being an active Disciple of Christ. We must be fervent in the Spirit in our service to Christ as Janitors and C.E.O.s, Burger Flippers and Presidents, Grocery Store Clerks and Futures Traders regardless of what brand or name is on our uniforms or the buildings we work at. We must be fervent in the Spirit in our service to Christ. Do everything in your heart as if God had personally asked you to do it for this season.
Until next time…