Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
We usually don’t think of carelessness as being a major sin. But it is. According to the New Testament, carelessness is sufficient to prevent us from going with the Lord when He appears. Carelessness is enough to cause us to have our Kingdom gifts taken from us and given to another, and to have us thrown into the outer darkness.
We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so we do not drift away. (Hebrews 2:1)
“So that we do not drift away.”
“Drifting away” is the central topic of the Book of Hebrews.
We understand from reading the Book of Hebrews that the people being addressed were experienced believers. They had seen the mighty works of the apostles. They had been taught doctrines beyond what is known in the Christian churches of our day, such as the doctrines of the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment.
(Our weak, unscriptural doctrine of the “pre-tribulation rapture” is no substitute for the true, biblical doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.)
They had joyfully suffered the confiscation of their property.
Yet the Book of Hebrews is one long rebuke. Why is this? Because the believers were drifting away from the intensity required to press into the rest of God. The rest of God is that place in the center of God’s Person and will where we are to dwell with the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the “perfection” mentioned by the writer of the Book of Hebrews.
It is obvious these Christian Jews were being tempted to go back into sin. The write reminds them that sinning wilfully is enough to make one the enemy of God and to experience the fires of Divine judgment.
He points out that they are called to be brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as such they are holy. He warns them about dying in the wilderness of life on the earth because of disobedience and unbelief.
They were neglecting to assemble in church meetings, and evidently were dismayed by the chastening they were receiving at the hand of the Lord.
It seems to me, when one thinks about all that is said in this book, the Jewish believers were being rebuked for their lack of fervor. They were not pressing forward in the manner of the Apostle Paul.
It reminds us of the Jews who returned from Babylon to rebuild the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem. They began enthusiastically, but then the Lord had to rebuke them for paying more attention to their paneled houses than they were to the work of rebuilding the Temple.
How many people begin in the Christian way and then settle down and pay more attention to their daily cares than they do to pressing forward in the Lord?
The writer of the Book of Hebrews warned these believers sternly concerning their carelessness, just as the Lord Jesus warned His followers about the deadly consequences of becoming careless with the things of God.
We could understand the severity of the warnings found in the Book of Hebrews if the believers were living in adultery, or robbing people, or using profanity, or lying. But drifting away? They were going to lose their inheritance in Christ because they did nothing worse than drift away?
Given the lukewarm state of numerous believers in America, I think we need to consider the dangers of carelessness.
The Lord spoke two parables about carelessness. One of the parables is that of the ten virgins. The other parable has to do with the talents given to the Lord’s servants.
Both of these parables illustrate the extremely harmful consequences of carelessness in the things of God.
At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. (Matthew 25:1)
This is a parable of the Kingdom of Heaven (the Kingdom of God). It is speaking of believers in Christ, not of unbelievers. These were people who were waiting for Christ to return.
I am emphasizing that all ten were believers because some, in their haste to prove once a person is “saved” no harm can come to him or her, insist that five of these virgins were Christians and five had not accepted Christ. This shows you the length that Bible teachers will go to support the current unscriptural traditions.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise. (Matthew 25:2)
Please note that the difference among the virgins was that five were foolish (or careless or indifferent or lazy or complacent or indifferent) and five were wise (or diligent or interested or industrious or fervent).
Have you ever heard a sermon about the dangers of foolishness or carelessness or indifference or laziness? I never have. Maybe some of us pastors need to get busy with this topic. After all, the Lord said if we were lukewarm He would spit us out of His mouth. I suppose lukewarm kind of means “careless.”
So much for eternal security!
The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. (Matthew 25:3:)
One of the characteristics of foolishness, or carelessness, is the inability, or unwillingness, to think ahead. Thinking ahead is the act of putting ourselves in the future and deciding if our present behavior is going to cause us to be joyful or anguished in the days to come.
For example: every one of us Christians needs to think seriously about the Day of Resurrection. We do not know if we will be alive tomorrow. But there is one thing of which we can be certain: the moment will come when we hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ calling us forth from the grave. At that moment we will receive what we have done while living on the earth.
I realize only too well how the unscriptural teaching of the “pre-tribulation” rapture has destroyed the true concept of the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. But for those who have ears to hear, the truth is, each one of us is going to hear the voice of Jesus and come forth to receive at His hand the things we have done during our lifetime. The believer is careless and foolish if he does not live his life so in the Day of Resurrection he will be joyful and not anguished.
The lamp represents our knowledge of the Bible. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. All ten virgins kept their lamps with them. However, five of them did not remain filled with the Spirit of God.
The true Christian life is one in which the believer continually is obeying the Lord and remaining filled with the Spirit. There are many believers who are convinced of the truth of the New Testament, and perhaps carry their Bible to church on Sunday morning. But they do not remain filled with the Spirit.
There is much hatred and unforgiveness in the Christian churches of our day. Such believers have little or none of the Holy Spirit in them.
“Yes, but they speak in tongues,” one might object.
There are people who are filled with bitterness and envy who speak in tongues. Speaking in tongues is not the evidence that we are living in the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are the evidence that we are filled with the Spirit.
I speak in tongues every day. But I am here to tell you that Pentecostal churches are filled with all the works of the flesh the Apostle Paul mentioned in his epistles.
The believer who is living in the Spirit is overcoming the compulsions of the sinful nature. The believer who is living in the Spirit is putting to death the actions of the sinful nature. He is preparing himself for the making alive of his mortal body in the day of the Lord’s appearing.
As I have been walking with the Lord and meditating in the Scriptures I have come to the conclusion that only a fraction (perhaps a small fraction) of those who profess to be Christians are going to be raised from the dead and caught up to meet the Lord when He appears.
Since the words of Paul appear to leave the impression that all Christians will be caught up when the Lord appears, I asked God to give me a passage of Scripture that would say clearly that not all who profess Christ will be caught up in that Day.
What came to me was the parable of the ten virgins. There it is, just as plain as day. They were all Christians. They all had their Bible. Yet only half of them were able to go in to the wedding when the Lord appeared.
We can protest that the five who did not go in were unsaved, or never were Christians in the first place, or whatever we like. But it lies plainly in the Word of God that five virgins, each carrying a lamp, were denied entrance to the wedding.
A virgin with a lamp is assuredly not a portrayal of an unsaved person, or someone who denied Christ. A virgin with a lamp is a portrayal of a saved individual who believes in the Bible and who needs to live in the Spirit of God if her lamp is to continue to burn.
Or so it seems to me. And they all were going out to meet the Bridegroom! This is a picture of an unsaved person?
The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. (Matthew 25:4)
The wise took oil in jars along with their lamps. They kept themselves filled with the Spirit of God. We keep ourselves filled with the Spirit by setting aside a period each day for a special time of prayer with the Lord. We also make provision for reading the Scriptures every day.
Many times during the day we look up to the Lord for wisdom concerning what we are doing or to give thanks for an action that brought the results we desired. Personally I make a practice of thanking the Lord every time something goes right, and asking for help when something goes wrong. We are to pray without ceasing!
If we are to remain filled with the Spirit we must forgive everyone. We are not permitted to hold hatred or a grudge against anyone, no matter what they may have done to us.
We are not to fret ourselves concerning the wickedness we see in the world around us. God is in control of the world. He is raising up brothers for the Lord Jesus Christ. The entire history of the world is working to change those whom God has foreknown into the image of Christ. All things, good and evil, are working together to accomplish God’s goals. Therefore to fret ourselves concerning evil is to demonstrate unbelief in God’s wisdom and power.
If there are fervent believers near us it is helpful to assemble with them on a regular basis. We are to give, serve, and obey the Lord in all matters. God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him.
In Pentecost we take the attitude that once we speak in tongues we have been filled with the Spirit and shall remain so until we are caught up to Heaven. This is not necessarily true. Speaking in tongues is a gift given to us to help us live in the Spirit, not a sign that we are filled with the Spirit. We can speak in tongues and continue in sin. Numerous believers do!
Our doctrine, our lamp, is not sufficient to open the door to the wedding. We must be filled with the Spirit. We must be living “in Christ” if we hope to rise from the dead when He appears.
The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. (Matthew 25:5)
Oswald Chambers mentioned that one of the chief foes of the Christian life is boredom. This is the truth.
When we first receive Christ there may be excitement, enthusiasm, joy, confidence. But as the years roll by, and we do not see anything unusual happening, we may begin to neglect our salvation. We may not pray as much. We may not read our Bible as we used to. We may even stop going to church.
“I can worship God out in the woods or on the beach,” people say. But this is not the same as assembling with other Christians.
“I can worship God at home on Sunday morning.” But this form of carelessness does not produce the necessary Christian growth.
“I can watch my favorite preacher on the television on Sunday morning. I don’t want to go to church with all those hypocrites.”
We are deluding ourselves. The churches are not filled with hypocrites but with ordinary people who want to please God. It is a fact that many of them are cold and indifferent. Some put on a show of religion and piety at church, but then are mean and selfish to those who are not members of their church. I understand this.
Nevertheless, Jesus Christ has instituted the churches. They are His instruments for introducing people to Himself and building them up in faith. With all their imperfections, churches are necessary for the construction of the Kingdom of God.
We start off on our Christian journey as a joyous Christian. But the years go by and we begin to believe the Lord will not come during our lifetime. It is easy then to cease pressing forward, pressing forward, pressing forward until we are dwelling in untroubled rest with Jesus Christ in the center of the Person and will of God.
At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” (Matthew 25:6)
Several times in the Gospel accounts the Lord declared that His coming would be as a thief. If we knew the calendar date of His appearing we could prepare ourselves. But it may be this afternoon. It may be a thousand years from now. Only the Father knows. We have to always be ready, especially at “midnight.”
You know, when we read a parable, or even a prophetic statement, we form in our mind a picture of what it will be like when the event occurs. But in many instances we are incorrect. The Jews have an idea what it will be like when Christ comes. The idea that Jesus on the cross was Christ is not acceptable to the Jews.
The same thing is true of us. We know the Lord said two would be in a bed, one would be left and the other taken. In the present parable we picture that in the Day of the Lord there will be a loud voice saying the Bridegroom is coming, and then we will go somewhere to meet Him.
I believe both of these ideas are true. But if I am not mistaken, there may be another dimension to that of two people in the bed and one being taken; and also of the ten virgins going out to meet the Bridegroom.
I think some of this is going on today; perhaps not the fullness of the prophecy, but elements of it that are dreadfully important.
There will be a worldwide appearing of Christ when every eye shall see Him. We know this is true and scriptural.
But think for a moment. Isn’t it true that in another sense, Christ is here now? Didn’t He say that where two or three are gathered in His name He is there in their midst?
Well, is He there or isn’t He there?
It may be true that even in our day some are going in to the wedding. It may be true that even in our day two are in one bed, one can hear the voice of the Lord and one cannot.
It may be true that even in our day the talents of some are being taken from them and given to another, and they are entering spiritual darkness.
We need to be careful that we do not miss the day of our visitation. The Jews missed the day of their visitation because they were not walking with the Lord. But Anna and Simeon saw Christ as a baby in the Temple. The important members of the Jewish religion were looking for a great king to come like Solomon. But Mary was holding the King in her arms.
It is easy to be active in our religions practices and miss God.
We say if we had been in the Temple we would have recognized the thundering God of Sinai in Mary’s arms. Would we? Maybe in one sense the midnight cry is sounding now. Are we hearing it, or are we busy in the activities of the church and not really walking with the Lord?
Watch and pray!
Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. (Matthew 25:7)
You know, you can grow cold without realizing it. You can neglect your regimen of Bible reading, church attending, and praying, and never realize the oil is leaking out. You can be entering the spiritual darkness and not realizing it.
We have in our country a spiritually dangerous practice called “retirement.” The idea of retiring is that now you have no responsibilities and can spend your time traveling, or working on a hobby, or visiting friends, or playing shuffleboard, or doing whatever sounds like fun.
It is reasonable that a person working for a corporation should retire after a number of years. But it is not reasonable that a believer should retire from the Christian discipleship. Yet this precisely is what takes place. The older person feels as though he has earned a rest, and he ceases pressing forward into the rest of God.
If God does not blast out of their laziness those who have retired spiritually, they are going to face an angry Christ. Why? Because they are not redeeming the time. They are burying their talent.
A person of any age is to serve God with all of his or her might. To spend our time doing nothing but relaxing is to invite decay and death. It is an excellent way to lose one’s inheritance.
There is a Bible passage in Ezekiel that warns us if a righteous person turns and begins to act wickedly, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered.
This Kingdom concept applies to our discipleship. If at any point we cease pressing into God with all our might, not praying, not reading our Bible, not being diligent with the time, strength, and abilities God has given us, then our prior Christian zeal will not be mentioned to us. We have to forge ahead until our last breath if we wish to attain to eternal life.
Can you imagine the Apostles or Christ retiring? No, you cannot. Because to retire in the American sense is to grow careless, lukewarm, indifferent, lazy. Such shall be punished severely for wasting what has been given to them.
The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.” (Matthew 25:8)
One time I said to the Lord, “I would be glad to share my oil with someone who had none. Is there anything wrong with that?”
The Lord’s response was: “You will have just enough ‘oil’ for yourself.”
This reminds me of the severity of the Lord’s expectations. In America we have become so accustomed to a lazy Gospel, God’s “unconditional love,” grace, mercy, and the “any-moment Rapture” that whoever would remind us that the righteous are saved with difficulty sounds like someone with a mental or emotional problem. We all have been accepted in the Beloved, so what are these weird individuals raving about?
It reminds me of Jeremiah speaking to his nation. Of all of God’s chosen people, Jeremiah appears to be the only one who was hearing from the Lord. This is not a pleasant position to be in, but it has happened enough times to God’s prophets.
So what are the prophets saying today? Are they speaking of God’s “unconditional love,” or are they warning us that Jesus Christ is far more severe than we are picturing? Why not pray and find out for yourself? Since you are a Christian, you have the Spirit of prophecy in you.
As I said, we grow careless. We cease praying, reading our Bible, and worshiping with the brothers and sisters. We come in at night, flop down exhausted, and watch the antics of Satan on the television. We do not have any inkling that there is anything wrong with our spiritual condition. Satan makes certain of that!
When Satan considers that the time is right, he makes his move. All of a sudden we try to shake ourselves, like Samson, and God is not there. Maybe some dreadful event occurs. We get a telephone call that our son has been in a car accident. Perhaps our little girl who was supposed to be at a slumber party never showed up.
Now we are panicked. We are too frightened to pray. Maybe we ask some Christians to pray. We have no peace in God because we have not been accustomed to looking to the Lord several times each day. We did not realize it but the Spirit of God has drained out of us and the waters of the world have taken their place.
When the lukewarm, careless Christians discover God is moving they are going to want to be part of the refreshing. They will want others to pray for them. They have become accustomed to having other people do their praying for them. But it is too late for this. The days of sharing are over. Every believer will have to accept what happens to him or her in that Day
Many of us are too soft to be able to comprehend the finality of God’s actions. We are so accustomed to being able to find a soft spot—some way of evading the consequence of our actions. But when God speaks there is no way of bringing pressure on Him to make Him change His mind—not in the Day of which we now are speaking.
“No,” they replied, “there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves. (Matthew 25:9)
Fervent Christians often have a number of people who are counting on them to do their praying for them. When they get in trouble, they want us to pray.
Sometimes careless Christians begin to reap what they have been sowing. They become ill, or have domestic or economic problems. Then they come to a pastor or counselor wanting to be delivered.
Perhaps the counselor may be able to give them advice that will help them—at least for a while. Maybe the individual will decide to become a true disciple, to take up his or her cross of self-denial and follow the Lord each day.
But there will come a time of definition. The lukewarm will be removed until only the cold and the hot remain. Those who are righteous and holy will remain that way. Those who are disobedient and morally filthy will remain that way. There will be no opportunity to change then.
If we really believe Christ is coming again, then we need to get busy and plan for what we hope to receive in that Day. I am afraid the present teaching leaves the impression that we can be lazy and indifferent now, but when the Lord returns all will be different: we will be received warmly and made a great king over the nations. We ought to know better than this, but apparently, from what is being taught, we don’t.
In that Day we no longer will be able to go to the righteous and get help. The righteous themselves will be saved with difficulty. This is what Peter said.
But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. (Matthew 25:10)
How terrible! How utterly terrifying! How would you feel if the door of Heaven were shut in your face? Such is the reward for carelessness.
Consider the fact that these were “virgins.” Nothing is said about their being drunkards, or adulteresses, or liars, or thieves. Their only sin was that of carelessness. Was carelessness alone sufficient to keep them out of the wedding? Apparently so!
It seems there is coming a day when it will be too late to repent; too late to pray; too late to call on the Lord for forgiveness; too late to gain the support of a fervent saint; too late to decide to be a fervent Christian; too late to be diligent. Too late! Too late!
Later the others also came. “Sir! Sir!” they said. “Open the door for us!” But he replied, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.” (Matthew 25:11,12)
Will there ever come a day when people who at one time knew the Lord will cry out to Jesus, and He will refuse to acknowledge them?
Consider: they wanted to go to the wedding banquet. These were not people who rejected the Bridegroom. Rather, the Bridegroom rejected them.
The argument is made that these virgins were not the Bride. I do not doubt that, not knowing enough about Jewish wedding customs. But I don’t think the Lord is saying the members of the Bride can be careless; but a lesser group, those who were invited to attend the wedding banquet, were required to be diligent in order to attend the wedding!
The point of the present article is that carelessness is sufficient to keep us out of the Kingdom of God, and I believe this is the point of the parable.
As far as Christ rejecting a believer:
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23)
The Lord must be speaking to Christians. They prophesied in His name. They drove out demons in His name. They performed many miracles in His name.
I think this is describing a believer. I haven’t seen many people who did not believe in Christ but prophesied in His name; drove out demons in His name; and performed many miracles in His name. In fact, I have not seen many believers who prophesied in the name of Jesus; drove out demons in His name; and performed many miracles in the name of Christ. Have you?
Yet, the Lord rejected them. Why did He reject them? Because they were evildoers.
Did they reject the Lord? No!
Did they want to be with Christ? I would say from their words that they wanted to be with the Lord.
What was the problem? They were evildoers.
The Lord said many would be rejected because they were evildoers, even though they performed supernatural works in His name.
I am saying the demands of salvation are stricter than what is being preached today.
I saw a sign outside a church, as I was driving home this morning from our men’s fellowship: “When we uncover our sins, God covers them.” Nothing was said about repentance.
It is true that when a sinner comes to God, confessing his or her sins, God forgives the sins. But then He says, “Go and sin no more.”
A sign on another local church says, “Come inside and you will get a free trip to Heaven.”
There is more to salvation than this. If we are to be saved we must obey Jesus Christ. Isn’t this so? The Lord told us if we are to be His disciple we must turn away from the world, take up our cross of self-denial, and follow Him every day. Is this a free trip to Heaven or is this a costly trip to salvation?
Does God just cover our sins, or does He require that through the Spirit we begin to live a holy life? If this is the case, then we are giving people a wrong impression when we offer them a free trip to Heaven.
Can you be saved and not be a disciple? In the Book of Acts, the disciples were called Christians (little christs). Did they have to risk their lives to be Christians? Did they have to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus every day?
If this was true of the original Christians, how can we say today that a person doesn’t have to do anything but just accept the free trip to Heaven?
Are we really preaching the Christian Gospel, or just something we made up to persuade people to join our religion?
So I don’t think we are far off the mark when we claim the Lord was not just speaking about some lesser group who are called to the wedding banquet (who would they be in any case if not Christians?). He is telling us that carelessness is sufficient to bar us from the Kingdom of God.
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matthew 25:13)
Who is the Lord telling to keep watch, if it is not His disciples, the Christian people?
Is He telling us that it is not enough to just make a profession of faith at one point in time, but that we must from that time forward continue to serve the Lord diligently? Is Christ warning us that we have to always be filled with the Holy Spirit; and if we are not, we stand in danger of being barred from the wedding banquet?
I think our nation is filled with careless believers in Christ. We need to wake up before it is too late. It may be true that the midnight call is being heard already!
The following parable, the parable of the talents, also concerns the sin of negligence, of carelessness, of lack of diligence. Apparently this is a major issue in the Kingdom of God. Perhaps it is associated with the lukewarmness for which the Lord rebuked the church in Laodicea.
Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. (Matthew 25:14)
It is taught today that this parable does not apply to Christian believers because we are “saved by grace.” The idea seems to be that the parables of Jesus applied to the Jews of His day; after His resurrection we are not saved by any of the words in the Gospel accounts, but purely by a sovereign grace.
Do you know something? Such teaching is not only destructive of the Christian faith but it is totally without any foundation in logic.
Would the Lord give all these parables about the Kingdom of God only to the Jews of His day, and not to the members of the Christian churches? How utterly ridiculous!
Was it only the Jews of Jesus’ day who have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God (which they could not do until after His resurrection)?
Was it only the Jews of Jesus’ day who are invited to abide in the Vine, and bear the fruit of the image of Christ?
We know better than this! Such teaching is reckless, to say the least.
The parables the Lord spoke, including the parable of the ten virgins and the parable of the talents, apply to every believer in the Lord Jesus.
The parable of the talents is spoken to the Lord’s servants, which means those who have placed their faith in Him and refer to Him as Lord. Are you a servant of Christ? I am. Then this parable applies to you and me.
To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. (Matthew 25:15)
What is a talent? A talent is anything God has given you. It may be a natural talent. It may be a supernatural gift of the Spirit. It may be a wife and children. It may be health and strength. It may be employment. It may be material possessions. It is everything God has given you with which to build His Kingdom. You and I are to always redeem the time, using all that we have to serve the Lord.
Notice that not all Christians are equally endowed. Some have been given much, and of them shall much be required.
“To each according to his ability.” Apparently the servant given one talent did not have as much ability as the servant given five talents. All Christians do not have the same ability.
The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. (Matthew 25:16-18)
This often is the way it is in life, although not always. The person with the greatest ability was given the most resources, and was the most profitable. He was diligent in the use of the things of the Lord.
The individual having the least ability and given the fewest resources, did not use what he was given. He buried his talent.
I may be incorrect, but it seems to me that the Christians who have been given the least are often the ones who do nothing at all. I suppose they figure what they are able to do is not as important as the office of pastor or evangelist, and so they do nothing but attend, sit, and listen.
I sometimes think of the believers who assemble as being an orchestra. The Holy Spirit is the conductor. There are some instruments, such as the violins, that may play most of the time. There may be other instruments, such as a flute or tuba, that play less frequently depending on the composition.
The point is, when the flute or the tuba is called for in the music, the violin or trumpet cannot fill in. The composer has thought through how he wants the symphony to sound, and each instrument is as important as every other instrument, in this sense.
Each member of the Body of Christ plays a necessary role in the function of the Body, just as in the human body. There are parts of our human body that we never heard of until they ceased to operate correctly.
When any believer, no matter how sparsely endowed, does not redeem the time diligently and listen to the Spirit at all times, the entire Body suffers and Christ is displeased.
Those with many talents often are industrious and give the Lord a return on His investment. But those who cannot see how anything they can do is important, are apt to be careless about the Lord’s will for their life and not serve in the manner set before them by the Lord. They do not realize if they are diligent with what they have been given, the Lord may entrust them with additional abilities and responsibility.
As we shall see, the consequences of not being diligent with all God has given us can be catastrophic.
After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. (Matthew 25:19)
As I stated a while back, one of the problems of the Christian life is boredom. After several decade pass, and nothing extraordinary seems to happen in our life, we are apt to suppose there is no need to be diligent and vigilant. Like the man with the barns, we are ready to lay back and take life easy.
But we can be assured that when we least expect it the Lord will come to us. He wants to know how diligently we have served Him. Only a foolish person waits until that day to decide to be serious with the call on his or her life.
There is no greater terror than to be held in the hand of God and realize you have not done what you were supposed to do.
I have heard there is a prayer that goes like this: “Lord, forgive us for the sinful things we have done, and those things we should have done but didn’t.”
From my point of view, this prayer is abominable. It is a confession that we have no intention of serving the Lord diligently. I don’t believe the Lord, who is an austere man, hears such a whining prayer.
I’ll tell you the truth. This prayer makes me sick to my stomach. It is like people who say “I know I ought to brush my teeth, but I keep forgetting.” Do you know what I mean? Soon they need false teeth. Maybe even then they forget what they are doing and leave their false teeth at home.
Careless people simply get nowhere with the Lord. They can’t be trusted to do anything but feel sorry for themselves.
Don’t ask God to forgive you for doing things you shouldn’t. When you know there is something you shouldn’t be doing, pray for the strength to stop doing it. Otherwise you will be charged with willful sin.
When you know there are things you ought to do, then pray for the strength to do them. Get out of the religious rut. Stop the foolishness, laziness, incompetence, and self-pity, and start serving the Lord. He will help you. But I guarantee He will never feel sorry for you. He is a King and He wants you to act like the child of a king.
The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.” His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! The man with the two talents also came. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.” His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:20-23)
The message of today is, “Accept Christ; and then when you die He will say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ even though you have been neither good nor faithful.”
The truth is, the Lord doesn’t refer to us as a good and faithful servant unless we have been good and faithful. Some things are obvious, but given the present distress, perhaps they need to be emphasized.
You know, all the tests and tribulations of our discipleship will seem as nothing when we come to the end of the trail and see the Lord rejoicing because of our faithfulness. “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus,” the song says.
But if we are to experience such incredible joy, we must “give every passing moment, something to lay in store,” as another hymn admonishes us. We have to be utterly diligent every day and every night of our discipleship. There is no point at which we retire until we pass from this world.
“I will put you in charge of many things.” Isn’t this an interesting reward? Perhaps we wish He would say, “I will give you a beautiful house with a soft couch, and you can lay on it for as long as you like.” Instead He offers us more responsibility.
Personally I believe the entire Christian Era has been primarily for the purpose of selecting rulers and training them. The remainder of the creation will be set in order as soon as the members of the royal priesthood have been assigned their respective roles. God needs people who can govern the works of His hands in righteousness. Would you care to be one of these?
Then the man who had received the one talent came. “Master,” he said, “I knew you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.” (Matthew 25: 24,25)
“I was afraid.” Was his problem really fear” He did not make sense, did he?
He knew his Lord is a hard man. The Lord harvests where He doesn’t sow. He gathers where He has not scattered seed. Was this any kind of reason for burying his talent? Wasn’t it actually a reason to put his talent to use?
What was this servant afraid of? Was he afraid his Lord would beat him if he lost the talent given to him?
How could a man harvest where he has not sown unless he went to someone else’s field?
Why do believers of today not use the resources the Lord has given them? Is it because they are afraid of the Lord? Does this make sense? Isn’t it because they are too busy with other things, or too lazy, or don’t want to be bothered? I don’t understand where fear enters in here. Do you?
I guess the Lord also doesn’t understand where fear enters in, because He doesn’t mention it.
Now that I think of it, after observing Christians for many years, it is a fact that some do not press forward in the Lord because they fear being harmed in some manner. Perhaps burying one’s talent, not using one’s resources to build the Kingdom of God, actually is a form of cowardice. The cowardly are the first class of people in the Lake of Fire.
It was fearfulness that prevented the Israelites from entering Canaan at the time of their first opportunity to enter the land.
In any case the Master did not accuse His servant of cowardice. What did He accuse him of?
His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?” (Matthew 25:26)
No mention of fearfulness. The rebuke was for being wicked and lazy.
“What should you have done if you knew how hard I am?”
Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so when I returned I would have received it back with interest. (Matthew 25:27)
Doesn’t this make sense? If the man realized his Master was a hard man, harvesting where He has not sown and gathering where He has not scattered seed, this is all the more reason why he should have been extra diligent with the talent given to him.
We don’t often hear Jesus being referred to as a “hard Man.” Rather, Jesus usually is presented, at least in America, as a kind of harmless do-gooder who is telling everyone how much He loves them.
To tell you the truth, I am not that certain Jesus loves everyone. Maybe He does, at least in the sense of being our Creator.
Suppose we were to come up to this man who was not using his resources to build the Kingdom of God, and said, “Jesus loves you.” So the man is persuaded Jesus loves him.
Then, when the Lord comes, the Lord calls him a wicked lazy servant.
Jesus loves you. You are a wicked, lazy servant.
Why are we telling people Jesus loves them if the Lord is angry with them? What are we trying to accomplish? Isn’t it a fact we are bearing a false witness?
Did Jesus love the man all the while and then suddenly turn on him and call him wicked and lazy; or did the Lord feel that way about him while he was wasting the Lord’s money?
If the Lord was disgusted with him because he was being wicked and lazy, why are we telling him Jesus loves him?
Maybe we ought to check with the Lord before we tell someone Jesus loves him or her.
According to the New Testament, did Jesus’ Apostles go about telling everyone Jesus loved them? Or did they warn people to repent because of judgment to come?
Did Paul tell Felix that Jesus loved him? I don’t think would make Felix tremble, do you?
All right, so Jesus loves the man. Just look at how the Lord expressed that love:
Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:28-30)
You want to know something? I think this sort of thing happens today.
When Christians do not use what they have, the Lord waits patiently to see if they are going to repent. If they do not, the Lord removes what they have been given and entrusts these Kingdom resources to someone else.
Then the wicked, lazy believer enters spiritual darkness.
He may not realize at the time the gifts God has given him have been given to another. Also, he may not realize he has been put into spiritual darkness. He no longer can see what the Lord is doing or hear the voice of the Spirit of God.
Instead he becomes critical of other Christians. Why? Because he is dwelling in the darkness with Satan.
Carelessness, indifference, lukewarmness, foolishness, laziness, neglect, complacency, are forms of wickedness. They are not accepted in the Kingdom of God.
Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)
What was the sin of Sodom? Arrogance, too much food, and indifference.
What characterizes American believers today? Arrogance, too much food, and indifference. This does not mean every American Christian is arrogant, overweight, and indifferent. But it does mean the wickedness we must be careful to avoid does not consist only or even primarily of drugs, alcohol, and adultery.
Our problem is business as usual. We are too occupied with the American materialistic way of life. Materialism causes us to not be diligent with the work of building the Kingdom of God, with feeding the Lord’s sheep. When we are rushing about, trying to keep up with our culture, we simply cannot hear the Lord. We are too busy!
Nothing more sinister than occupying ourselves with eating, working, playing, sleeping, and reproducing can result in our being carried away in the river of destruction in the Day of Christ.