Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Five Talent and Two Talent Saints

Mat 25:20  And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.'
Mat 25:21  His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'

1Co 3:12  Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—1Co 3:13  each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 1Co 3:14  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.

The Bible doesn’t give us a whole lot of details as to what the reward system for saints will be in eternity.  It does make it clear that there will be reward and that it will be according to our service in this life which would radically affect most of us if we actually lived with this in mind.  But beyond that God has willed that we be left in the dark as to most of the details.  He has given us some clues as to how to please him and that has mostly to do with our motivations.  Reward will come when we do all things out of thanksgiving and to glorify the Lord that we love.  This is why love fulfills the law or God’s will for us.

But I got to thinking about the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 and the difference between the one who was given 5 talents and the one given 2.  The one given 1 talent was an unbeliever which separates him from the first two but I was thinking about what is the difference between the 5 talent guy and the 2 talent guy.

Growing up listening to the preacher this passage was usually approached by the English play on the word “talent”, so that it was seen as the different talents or abilities or gifts God has given us. While some have more than others, the point was to be faithful in what God has given you small or great.  I wouldn’t argue that this is an application. 

But I wonder if the “gifts” are seen in the “abilities” later in the verse; “To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.”  It seems that the gifts God have given us are implied in the abilities, and the talents are given in light of the way God has made each of us.  Maybe instead of reading it, “He gave gifts to each according to their gifts”, we might understand it, “He gave each opportunities to invest in the kingdom according to the gifts he had already given them”.

Now let me try to explain why this distinction might matter.  I think I have tended to apply this to the amount of “talents” each of us have.  So I look at someone who is a gifted communicator or singer or one who has been given a big income as having perhaps more talents than the rest of us.  And so they have more to work with and have the potential for greater reward.  I am fine with that since God can do with each of us as he sees fit and whatever God does is not only perfectly just but is much better than we deserve anyway.

But instead of thinking of it primarily as “talents” or gifts which might be implied in the word “ability”; I think it applies better to opportunities for investment which is how the Lord uses it in the text.  The extra talent or two that some get might be the situations to serve the Lord that many of us don’t get.  The 5 talent saint isn’t the gifted preacher who sits in his air-conditioned office sipping freshly brewed coffee while he tries to find Scriptural application for his people who are making good money and have relatively few outward problems.  There is nothing wrong with this because this is where God has placed him and he is to be faithful in that setting.  Except for the gifted part I find myself in the same situation.  But because being a Christian costs some of us so little, I wonder if at best most of us in the West are the 2 talent servants and the 5 talent ones are those that have much bigger investment opportunities than we will ever have?

I think about faithful saints who live in places where being a Christian is dangerous and yet while they try to be faithful in danger they also have to deal with poverty and all that goes with bad health care and inadequate nourishment, etc.  They have all the gifts that we do but their opportunities to display the power of God in their gifts are much more than most of us have.  I think these are the saints that are the 5 talent saints and their reward will be greater, and rightly so, than those whose faith didn’t cost them nearly as much.

Maybe instead of thinking of these “talents” as my ability to sing or teach or give or whatever, we need to start asking ourselves if we are willing to use them when it actually costs us something.  How many saints deal with loneliness or life with an abusive or uncaring spouse, or constant pain, or never knowing where the money for their next meal is coming from or are treated like fools because they profess Christ?  How many live in areas where they might be arrested or tortured or killed because of their Faith?  To me, these are the 5 talent saints who will have the most reward in glory among the saints.  We all will be faithful but some have had much more difficult situations to be faithful in than some.

If God has put us in the place of the 2 talent saints then that is fine.  Let us be faithful with what we have and we too will receive the “Well done, good and faithful servant”.  But let’s not glory in our gifts and privilege but in how well we honor the Lord when life is hard and when people are difficult.  Let us count it all glory to suffer for his sake.  Not just by singing and preaching in our comfortable churches but at home and at work when we are surrounded by the enemy and yet can testify to the goodness of God when it actually costs us something.  I think sometimes we lose reward because we are happy to serve when it is comfortable and convenient but we balk and complain when all of the sudden the Lord takes away our comfort and we don’t understand because we think we deserve it. 

Maybe what the Lord is doing is giving us another “talent” or better opportunity to use our gifts.  Displaying our gifts in church or when everyone is saying “amen” is one thing but I would think the greater reward is getting down in the trenches and ministering to people whose lives are messy and make us uncomfortable.  It is interacting with people who don’t love the Lord and don’t understand why we do.  Maybe American Christians are about to be given more “talent” opportunities than they have had in the past by living in a society that hates God and his Word.  The question is will we embrace this new “talent” or complain about it?  Will we hide them because they are difficult or invest them for the Kingdom of God?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Rebellion and Failure of Feminism

1Pe 2:13  Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,
Eph 5:21  submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.   Wives and Husbands Eph 5:22  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

In my last article I spoke on how submission to authority is a must for one to live a godly life and be great in the Kingdom of God.  I wanted to add a little to that in this blog but come at it more from the marriage relationship.

It is common for feminists to decry any form of submission of the wife to her husband as indicating that she is in some way inferior to him.  In part many men have reinforced this idea because they treat women as inferior.  But in actuality this is a fundamental error in thinking and in understanding what the Bible is after when it tells wives to submit to their husbands.  There is never in God’s Word any indication that women are ontologically inferior to men; that is in their humanity they are different than men but equal as human beings.  Their submission is for order in society and their protection; it is not a statement that men are superior and neither is it a statement that men can always do a better job at things that they are to lead in.

Feministic ideas fail because at their heart is the refusal to submit to any authority and especially God’s.  They are inconsistent because they don’t apply their rebellion equally when it comes to authority.  For example, does the fact that we are all commanded to obey the government mean that we are inferior to government officials?  Is the employee inferior to his boss?  No, and it is not unusual for a boss to be incompetent or at least unable to do his job better than some of his employees.  But the fact is that everyone can’t be the boss, everyone can’t be the foreman, the President, or the school teacher.  And in the same way the home needs a leader and God has given the husband and father that responsibility.  Whether his wife can do some of it better has nothing to do with who is to be the head of the home.  If a man is a good leader he will recognize when his wife is more or at least as gifted as he is in some area and give her the freedom to help him.  It is just like a good boss looks for those under him who can help him do his job and why a good President fills his Cabinet with people who are more qualified than him in certain areas.  As a leader his job is to make it all work for the good of the country.

A godly wife understands that she has been given her husband’s leadership from the Lord for her good and even though it is sometimes difficult to obey him, she does so within the biblical parameters because anarchy and butting heads is good for no one.  If her husband makes her feel inferior then that is on him and as the leader he will answer for that and this gives us all the ability to suffer under bad leadership.  I might be able to run the country better than the President but I am not the President so my job is to submit and the same goes for a wife even as we understand that each sphere of authority the submission is different and there aren’t one to one correlations.  In other words, the authority and consequences of rebellion are different from government to school to work place to home.

Someone put it well.  “For a marriage to be what it should be both spouses need to love the same Man, the God/Man Christ Jesus.  Without that both leadership and submission is much more likely to be guided by selfishness." This is especially true for the husband who is to lead for the good of his wife.  To fail here will lead to unneeded stress in the relationship at best and tyranny and abuse at worst.

A good illustration of this is when Jesus impresses on Peter the need for him to feed the sheep in John 21.  He doesn’t try to motivate Peter by asking if Peter loved the sheep; he asks three times if he loved his Lord.    Joh 21:17  He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.  If Peter loves the Lord he will take his responsibility to tend the sheep much more seriously than if he saw the sheep as existing for himself.

Here is a fundamental lesson for all of us.  Keep our love for the Lord warm and our love and interaction with others will be where it needs to be.