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, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 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? 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. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:24-30

I think sometimes the “worthless” servant gets a bad rap. We tend to simplify the story too much and think, “Well, come on, how hard would it have been for the servant to just invest the money instead of hiding it?” But when we take a closer look, we realize that it took a lot of guts to do what the faithful servants did. It was a risk to invest the talents. No wonder the servant who hid his talent acted as he did. He was afraid of losing it! But in attempting to protect the master’s property he ended up not only losing it but being condemned. He acted in fear and in false understanding of who his master was. That fear drove his actions rather than allowing trust to drive his actions as the faithful servants had.

The story reminds me of something that Jesus said earlier in Matthew (16:25), “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Investing our time, our talents, our lives, our very souls will cost us something and it will demand trust in a good Master. However, hiding it in an attempt to keep it will only cause us to lose it. What a paradox. Jesus’ Kingdom seems so upside down sometimes, doesn’t it? Yet, his Kingdom is good and he is the Good Master whose rule does not instill fear. Fear of losing is a lie. Joy in gaining because of trust is what Jesus’ followers can experience.

How have you typically viewed the “worthless” servant? Can you identify with his fear? Or his false narrative of the Master? Today, reflect on the truth of the Good Master’s invitation to his Kingdom and pray against any propensity you have to live and act in fear. A great song to lead you in this is Fear Is a Liar by Zach Williams.

By Ellen Rosenberger

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