“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. … He 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.’– Matthew 25:14-15, 24-25
In this week’s parable, Jesus sets the scene with a man going on a journey and leaving his financial property to his servants. The story begs the question: Why would one servant hide what his master entrusted to him? As the story unfolds, it appears this servant hid the money out of his fear and false narrative of the master. The text says, he was afraid and he believed his master to be a harsh manipulative man – always getting what he wants even when he doesn’t do anything directly to get it.
Underlying fear causes the servant to choose passivity and to blame-shift. Just look at his actions. He does nothing until his master returns and then passive-aggressively puts the responsibility on his master when he says, “Here, you have what is yours.” Fear causes us to do strange things too. When we experience fear, we automatically try to protect ourselves. Although our defense mechanisms are a gift from God to help us discern the difference between good or bad, fight or flight, sometimes our defenses get off-base and all too we quickly react to an assumption that the situation will cause great pain or intense shame.
Fear is an emotional response because there is some thing we are fearing. There is always a story we are hearing. You see, false narratives are under almost every one of our fears. For the servant in the parable, he was listening to an internal story about his mean master. Whether we realize it or not, we carry a narrative about our master too. We may fear his response, his judgment, or even his love. We may believe him to be a harsh judge, a legalistic father, or a soft leader. Whatever the story may be, how we view Jesus affects how we interact with Jesus and what we do with his investment in us. Take the next few minutes to sit with the following question. Based on my actions around Jesus, what story am I telling myself about him? Note: Be honest with yourself and refuse the “right” answer or what you think you “should believe.”
By Yvonne Biel