“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.’”
My whole life I’ve heard this verse preached to motivate me to use my gifts and to do something useful with what God has given me. It’s gone so far as to shame me into thinking that if I fail to do what God has called me to do because of rebellion or because of fear, He’ll be angry at me and either move on to someone else at best or throw me out of Heaven at worst.
But something’s off about this parable. The servant says that the master is hard and reaps where he doesn’t sow. And when the master comes back, he confirms that he really is this jerk master and even punishes the servant for not covering his shadiness. Then it hit me—Jesus isn’t like that. He isn’t hard and cold-blooded. He doesn’t try to get something without working for it. He doesn’t expect us to do things for Him that He’s not willing to do Himself.
So if Jesus doesn’t act like this master, why do we expect Him to treat us like this master?
Peter was one of the closest disciples to Jesus and Jesus even gave him the “keys to the kingdom”. But when Jesus needed him the most, he denied Him 3 times. This is the lowest point in Peter’s life and could arguably be an unforgivable sin on his part. This isn’t just being too lazy to do what God has called him to do. It’s even deeper than just being afraid. He goes all out to the point of throwing Jesus under the bus in order to save his own life.
If Peter was working for the master in Matthew 25, we already know what would’ve happened to him—weeping and gnashing of teeth. But Jesus doesn’t do that.
When Jesus comes back from the dead, Peter decides to go fishing instead of hang out with Him. I would imagine it would be an awkward conversation to say the least, given the last words Jesus had heard him say. But Jesus finds him and asks him three times: “Do you love Me?” And when Peter answers each time, Jesus tells him, “Feed my sheep.” He gives him another chance.
What’s the lesson? I think Jesus is teaching us that if you love Him, you will never fail Him—no matter how much you mess up. When you focus on how much God loves you and how much He’s sacrificed for you, that love will cast out all fear that will keep you from doing what He’s called you to do. Instead of being a slave master ready to whip you for messing up, He’s a father brushing the dirt off you and telling you to get back up. So instead of threatening you with shame and punishment, He empowers you with love.
So if you’re going through life being afraid that God won’t tell you, “Well done.” after you die, relax. Don’t think about what He’ll say to you in the future; think of what He’s saying to you now: “I love you and I’m still proud of you.” Let that get you back up and thrust you back in the game.