Friday, September 14, 2012
Today’s Topic: Finish Well
Today’s Text: Matthew 25:21 (ESV)
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.’
I saw it in his eyes before I heard it from his heart as it passed through his lips. It was a humble and yet amazing answer to a simple question, and it made a huge impression on me.
Yesterday I stopped by the apartment of a man that I knew back in the late 1980’s. He has reappeared in my life and requested a personal visit. After some catching up chat, I asked the question, “So what’s on your heart today?”
As he looked into my eyes, I saw the humility and sincerity of a heart that had been moved by the Holy Spirit. He simply said, “I want to finish well.”
He explained how he had wandered from Christ, been divorced, has a daughter that was told he was dead, and blamed all of his medical issues on God. He was born with spinal bifida, but was one of the few that did not become paralyzed as a result. He has a shunt in his neck to drain excess fluid from his cranium so his brain can function properly. He has torn ligaments in his knee and damage in his right wrist. He uses a walker and/or cane to remain mobile, but there are days when all he can do is get into his wheelchair.
For several months he has been watching our church service on TV every Sunday, and several weeks ago decided to attend in person. I didn’t recognize him, but he knew me, and gave me a warm hug as the extension of his huge smile. He’s been back every week, and even attended our Saturday night worship event last week. Now, as we sat in his living room, with his Bible open on the table in front of him, he said, “I want to be found faithful when Jesus returns.”
You know me well enough by now to know that the tears welled up in my eyes. We talked about what faithfulness would look like in his life with his current physical limitations. His vision was well beyond my expectations. He listed two things:
- I want to get into a Bible study that will help me grow, but it has to be fairly simply because I have comprehension problems. It takes me a while to get it, but I want to get it.
- I want to be involved in the church’s visitation program. I love working with older people, and would love to be able to visit shut-ins. After all, I’m almost one myself already.
I was blown away. As I sat this morning and reflected on his requests, I immediately thought of the parable Jesus told about the Master who gave varying talents to His servants to manage for Him until He returned. Two of the servants invested wisely and doubled the Master’s resources. But one man, out of fear, buried his talent and return only the initial amount when the Master returned. The two investors were rewarded not only with promotions but with eternal words of affirmation – ‘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.’ However, the one who had buried his talent was condemned.
Now here I was, sitting with the man who I thought got only one, and after years of burying the talent that Jesus had given him, he was now ready to invest it for the Master. How ashamed I am to now realize that he was given far more than one. What an honor to be the one God called to come along side of him and help him finish well, so he can hear those eternally affirming words, ‘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.’
Now I must contemplate in my own life how I will finish, and so must you. With all that you have been given, is it being invested for the Master or for self? We must know this truth – everything invested in self is considered buried by the Master, and it will all be lost. Today may be your day to repent of your past, surrender your present, and secure your future. It begins at the cross, where Jesus will forgive you, and help you dig up the treasure He gave you. He will clean off all the flesh that has tarnished it so that you can invest it in His service for His glory. Then and only then can you be assured that you will finish well and be found faithful when the Lord returns.