Mat 25:24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, Mat 25:25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' Mat 25:26 But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Mat 25:27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
In my most recent attempt to teach through Matthew I thought a little more about the words of this wicked servant at his day of judgment. The main point of this and all three parables in this chapter is to not be caught unprepared for the coming of Christ. So whether we fully understand what is meant in his words we must at least get that. To see what is going on here I also think it is important to see that in each of these parables the lost are false professors who think that the Lord should receive them into heaven and are rather surprised when he doesn’t.
The first two servants call him master and admit that the talents given to them are his to give and that therefore it is their duty as servants to use the money and produce more for their master. But there are significant differences in the thinking of the third servant. He calls him master and admits that he has been given a talent but there the similarities end.
He calls him hard and not gracious. Immediately he accuses his master of assuming more rights over him than he should. He demands service that is not his to demand and so is seen as hard, mean and uncaring. The idea behind this is that God is unfair and has no right to hold him accountable. This is clear from the next phrase that claims God takes what is not his by right; that he steals someone else’s crop. What he is saying is that you have no right to my life and my affections and to judge me for living life the way I want to live. My life is my own and you have no right to reap from me; I am a self-made man.
Of course this is just not true. Our lives are the Lord’s by creative right and to live as if he has no rights over us and that we should be free to do what we want is exactly what being unprepared to meet God is all about in chapters 24 and 25. This was the problem with those living during the days of the flood when, because they ignored God by ignoring Noah’s message, they could not withstand the judgment of God. The message of these chapters is that being prepared for the second coming is not by being presumptuous and assuming we are saved merely because we acknowledge him as God, but by living a life of faithful obedience. That is the Lord’s will for us until he comes. Obedience doesn’t earn admittance into heaven but all those who are going to get in will live obedient and faithful lives.
Now you might say, “Wait just a minute. The Lord seems to be agreeing with him about what kind of God he is; so what is going on here?” First of all, I think that 26 is said with sarcasm. No way is the Lord hard or ungracious and one who takes what is not his. I think what the Lord is doing is telling him that his own view of God still condemns him. I think we can connect this to Romans 1. The mere fact that you believe there to be a God (this servant calls him Lord and understands that there is a God who has given him talents) means you owe him something and as our creator we must owe him everything. In Romans 1 the lost are seen as those who suppress what they know of God by natural revelation. This applies even if they are suppressing what they know of God from reading the Bible.
This goes back to seeing all these lost as those who claim to be servants of God or believers. To claim to believe in Christ and believe the Bible and yet live as if none of it matters and that we are free to ignore God is to live contradictory to our profession and such are not ready to stand before the just God of the universe.