But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate… (Matthew 25:26)
Often while reading the New Testament, I find myself as perplexed as the disciples were by the comments of Christ, if not more so. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable of a man who had three servants, and before he left for trip, he gave them talents. The first servant five talents, the second had two talents, and the last just had one. Upon his return he reconciles with them; the first and second servant both doubled their money. However, the third servant was afraid and buried the one talent he had. Christ calls this wickedness!
I didn’t understand why being afraid would be considered wicked. I didn’t think the master’s instructions were clear enough and felt his judgment was harsh. If I was in the story, would I have realized I need to invest the money or would I have succumbed to fear and been called wicked? This brought panic to my heart and anytime I would hear the parable, that panic would return.
The enemy used this panic and magnified it into a greater fear of constantly worrying I would unknowingly do something wrong and be called wicked!
I lived most of my youth with the fear that I would somehow always do something wrong. This fear prevented much affirmation from the Father and skewed my perspective of success and failure. It took great patience by Holy Spirit to reveal the truth in this passage to me. It took two years and finding freedom in another verse before I could understand this passage.
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked. (Proverbs 24:16 NLT)
I began meditating and then preaching on the first part of this verse. It brought great hope to my heart and many others. A godly man falls! The biblical definition of a godly man, isn’t a perfect man, it is a man who falls but keeps getting up. Therefore, your struggle to remain standing qualifies you as godly!
This verse gives all of us men and women who are so incredibly flawed hope that as long as we continue to fight to remain on our feet, we are qualified by God’s Word to be called godly! This was a great start for me, but herein lies why Holy Spirit was so patient with me. There is, of course, a second portion of the verse! “But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.”
I can remember the feeling when Holy Spirit illuminated this portion of His Word to me. It was one of those moments like when you are looking for your watch for 15 minutes or so, only to realize it was in your pocket or on your wrist!
Failure in the kingdom is not the same as in the world. In the world, when you mess up, when your attempt comes up short, it is labeled as failure. But failure in the Kingdom of God is not trying again! It’s staying down and giving up. Failure is when you give in to your fears and judge yourself unworthy of another attempt. You believe the lie that you will never get it right so you shouldn’t try anymore!
My misperception of Christ’s parable was that the third servant’s not knowing what his master wanted him to do was what made him wicked, but rather, it was the fact that he was unwilling to try. This truth set me free on so many levels.
The Kingdom of God is a place where it is safe to make mistakes, because it means that you are trying. It’s safe to make mistakes, and there is a Father Who looks upon you with incredible compassion and love, longing to help you in your efforts to try again.
As you reflect on this past year, and look forward to 2015, allow me to leave you with a scene from a movie. Evan Almighty is about a man who is commanded by God to build an arc like Noah’s. At the end of the movie, Morgan Freeman who plays God affirms Steve Carell (Evan) for building the ark. “God” says, “You did it Evan, you did a great job!” Perplexed, Evan replies, “What are you talking about? I fought you every step of the way and constantly questioned you.” “God” then says “Yeah, but you still did it.”
Give yourself a break. Stop judging yourself; you aren’t qualified to do so. Let God be judge and Father in your life. Allow yourself to take some more risks and make some mistakes, because we live with a Father Who makes it safe to do so.