We are exposed to the temptation of comparison every day. From watching the news to scrolling through facebook or Instagram. Do you ever feel like your life just isn’t good enough or as perfect as someone else’s? I know I do and have to shake this one off often. I have to remember that cooking my family meal is just as important as seeing a friend running in the business world. I have to remind myself, we all have value. Then I come across this little parable and I am struck that GOD doesn’t see us as ‘equal’ and my world shakes again. I start to compare myself – where do I fit? Am I more or less than that other person? … but then I need to understand that I can’t measure GOD’s level of value in what He gives to us. He gives differently because He sees our ability in how we steward it.
In Matthew 25:14-28 Jesus tells a parable. There are three servants who are each given an amount of gold. One is given five bags, another is given two and the last is given one. Do you see where I get bogged down. The servants are us and the man dishing out the gold is GOD. Does GOD really value the first more than the others? Does He have favourites? … Read on … the gold is given according to their ability. So here is an important piece of information. Each servant has been noticed, each servant has been given to but the difference is the ability to hold the riches given to them – not how much they are valued.
The first two servants put the bags of gold that they are given to work, doubling what they were given. Please note that it is the gold that the master gives that reproduces when put to work. The servants just have to put it in the place where it will work. The third servant dug a hole and hid the master’s money. Did that last servant have an issue with comparison? I think so!
It is at this point that the master comes home and calls the first two servants “faithful”. The third servant, who was given according to his ability could have doubled the one bag of gold and given back two, but fear led him to hide what he had been given. The master knew that he was able to do exactly the same as the other two servants, but this servant was blinded by fear. He couldn’t even leave the bag of gold in a safe place like a bank, he hid it. The servant describes the master as a ‘hard man’. The servant had not seen the situation as it had been laid out. I think he compared what he had been given with the other servants and then compared his value to theirs. ‘The master obviously doesn’t think that highly of me and thinks I am incapable of doing any good … perhaps this one, measly bag was an afterthought.’ Do you ever feel that way??!
He hid the gold out of fear. He feared that he was not good enough, he feared that he would fail, he feared that his perceived idea of the master would be right in his assessment, he feared that he would not be able to please the master. Fear is nasty. It makes us hide. I have heard that fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real. The false evidence of the servant’s value resulted in fear. So what was the true evidence … the master gave to the servants according to their ability. Had he believed this, the servant would have doubled the gold without trouble because it was in his power to do so. But when I look at what the master says and does, there is a real warning. The master calls the servant wicked and lazy. Wicked and lazy! I know! This poor servant who has a complex about himself is wicked and lazy. Why? Because he had understood some things about the master but had chosen not to believe them to be true (about himself). The servant states, in his excuse, that the master harvests where he does not scatter seed. The servant informs the master that he has noticed that the master knows what he is doing, is able to be a good businessman and is wise … yet accuses the master of not any of these things when it came to the assessment of the servant. The servant’s actions speak volumes about what he was believing. The servant tells the master that he was wrong! The master had every right to take the gold that had been hidden and give it to the servant that already has plenty so that servant had an abundance. Comparison robs you!
So, having put aside the rubbish of comparison let’s look at the other part of the parable … GOD gives to us according to our ability. His fingerprints are all over what He hands out to us (hence the fingerprint bags of gold). He knows our … my ability. What do I do with what He has given me? If I’m honest, fear does creep in and tells me to hide it. BUT I don’t want to get caught in that trap!
This parable comes immediately after Jesus has been talking about the end times. There are several parables about being ready for when the Kingdom of Heaven comes. There are stark differences with how we relate to GOD when we have done all we can to be ready and when we haven’t. He will either say, ‘Well done good and faithful servant!’ or, ‘I don’t know you.’ I know which one would be best so how can I be a faithful servant? The clues are in the parable of the bags of gold. Put what GOD has given you to work and trust in His assessment of your ability.
Is there anything that have you buried and hidden?! Do you need to stop comparing what you have to what others have? Lessons for today … Don’t look at what others have been given and neglect what you have been given, GOD knows and gives according to my ability, don’t listen to fear, put what GOD gives to work – it will grow. As you ability grows, you will be given more.