by Mark D. Roberts on Monday, September 26, 2011
“ ‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.’ ”
I grew up in a church that celebrated the great things God had done through our people. The First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood was once one of the largest churches in the world. From “Hollywood Pres,” hundreds of people filled the globe as full-time missionaries. Hundreds more became pastors or full-time church workers. Campus Crusade for Christ (now “Cru”) was founded by Bill Bright during his days at Hollywood Pres. Louie Zamperini, the star of the best-selling book Unbroken was on the church staff. During her tenure at the church, Henrietta Mears had founded Forest Home Christian Conference Center and Gospel Light Publishing, a world leader in the production of Sunday School curriculum. Lloyd Ogilive, who pastored the Hollywood church during much of my time there, was a prolific author and a preacher who was once ranked among the finest preachers in America. God did great things through the people at Hollywood Pres, and we were proud to be used in such works.
But there was a downside to all of this greatness. Yes, it could inspire ordinary people to do small works for God. But, it could also leave us feeling insignificant. How could we, just plain disciples of Jesus, do great things for Jesus? And if we couldn’t do great things, perhaps we should just sit in the bleachers and cheer on God’s real athletes.
In the parable found in Luke 19:11-27, Jesus teaches us to think differently about what we do for God in this life. He uses a parable of a nobleman and his servants to encourage us not to worry about whether what we’re doing is big or little. In this parable, a nobleman journeys to a distant empire in order to be crowned king. Before leaving, he divides his property among his servants, giving each one “ten pounds of silver” (literally, ten minas, or 1,000 days wages for a worker; 19:13). The nobleman tells his servants to invest the money on his behalf while he’s gone.
When the nobleman, now the king, returns, he asks his servants to account for what they did with his money. The first servant says, “Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!” (19:16). The delighted king responds, “Well done!…You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward” (19:17). The original Greek of this verse emphasizes the king’s belief that what he had given to the servant was insignificant. Verse 17 could be translated more literally, “You have been faithful in the smallest, least important thing” (from the Greek elachistos ).
This statement challenges me to wonder: Am I being faithful in the little things in life and work? Or am I waiting around for something great before I strive to be faithful? Am I willing to be faithful in things nobody will ever see? Or am I investing my effort only in actions that will draw attention to myself?
Tomorrow, I’ll reflect a bit more on this parable from Luke. For now, you may want to consider the questions I am mulling over with the Lord.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Are you being faithful in the little things? Or are you waiting around for something great before you strive to be faithful? Are you willing to be faithful in things nobody will ever see? Or are you investing your effort only in actions that will draw attention to yourself?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for the challenge and encouragement of this passage from Luke. It challenges me to consider my own attitudes toward the “little things” in my life. It challenges me to think of faithfulness more broadly, to seek to live for you in every part of life, not just the “big things.”
This passage encourages me not to worry if my life seems to be filled with “little things.” My calling is not to worry about the size of my impact, but rather about the length and depth of my faithfulness to you. Help me, I pray, to know what this means and to live it out each day, including today.
All praise be to you, God whose greatness exceeds my imagination, God of the “little things.” Amen.