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Grace Notes

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"WELL DONE, GOOD AND ______________ SLAVE"
by Philip Owen

          Nearly everyone reading the title filled in the blank space with the correct word: faithful. With few exceptions, those of us who have attended a sound Bible-based church for any length of time have heard more than one sermon as well as multiple exhortations based on this text from Matthew’s Gospel (25:21). It might be viewed as the backdrop on the stage where our life as believers is played out. But like the wallpaper in the family room, we cease really to see it after a time. It’s still there, but it has lost any significance to us.

            I believe this to be true because so many of us conduct our lives in such a way as to suggest that the commendation reads this way. “Well done, good and popular slave.” Or, “Well done, good and talented slave.” Or, “Well done, good and impressive slave.” Or, “Well done, good and successful slave.” We pursue, cherish, and covet merely natural things, qualities that impress the flesh, things that please the natural man—all in the name of the Lord and in His service, of course, forgetting what is important to our Lord.

            What we fail to recognize, or have forgotten, is that the Lord does not need any one of us or any of our abilities. Whatever talents we have, He bestowed on us. Whatever service He asks of us, He could perform Himself more easily did He not desire to bless us when we serve Him. Let the golden-tongued orator remember that the rocks could cry out in praise of Him if the Lord so ordained. And they could do so with perfect clarity and without error of any kind. Let the musician remember that the morning stars can praise the Lord with more grandeur than any human being. Let one impressed with his writing ability recall that God at one time wrote with His finger on a wall and a worldwide empire immediately collapsed. Let those with great technical skills remember that God spoke the worlds into existence and now upholds them without the least effort. No, God is pleased to use us in order to bless us, but He needs no one, nor is He impressed with our human display of talents. They are merely gifts belonging to Him and temporarily bestowed on us for our use to His glory.

            Believers talk a lot about faith, and rightly so, because “without faith it is impossible to please Him [God]” (Heb. 11:6). Nevertheless, it is the faith that produces faithfulness that ultimately pleases the Lord. Faithfulness is one of the sterling attributes of the Lord. One of the last promises God gave to His people before imposing a four-hundred-year silence on them was, “I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” (Mal. 3:6). The writer of Hebrews reiterated the promise after those years had elapsed: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). Not one of all God’s other attributes would be of value to us were He not absolutely and perfectly faithful to Himself and to His Word. But He is, and so we may rest with peace and work with assurance.

            The Lord has sired sons and daughters to be like Him—faithful. Think of synonyms for that word: reliable . . . trustworthy . . . steady . . . constant. Are those words that define our lives? Do we obey the Word of God? Do we fulfill our vows and keep our promises? Can those who know us count on us in times of trouble? Do they expect us to apply the Word of God consistently to ourselves, our family, our brethren, and unbelievers in every circumstance? Do they have confidence that we will stand on and for the Word of God no matter what the consequences? That is faithfulness. It doesn’t require a high IQ. It doesn’t require advanced education or special training. It doesn’t require great giftedness. It doesn’t require exceptional genes. It doesn’t require great opportunities. It doesn’t require a certain level of experience. It doesn’t require health and strength. In short, anyone can be faithful. Beginning right now, you and I who know the Lord can live lives that will please the Lord and receive His immeasurable commendation: “Well done, good and faithful slave.” All it requires is that we know and love Him and His Word. We must fill in the blank.

 

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