Some of Jesus’ most challenging and confronting words are to be found in the stories he told. The last three stories Matthew records highlight the disastrous consequences of neglect.
The five foolish virgins neglected to take additional oil for their lamps in preparation for an extended time of waiting. “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
The “one talent servant” failed to use to his master’s advantage the assets entrusted to his management, and he suffered the consequences. “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! … Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. … And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness…” Matthew 25:26, 28, 30
The king separated and placed on his left the people who had ignored the plight of those they saw in distress around them. The king took their callous indifference personally. “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Matthew 25:45. His words of judgment are chilling. “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41
The “rich fool” (see Luke 12:16-20) made provision to store his earthly harvest but neglected his relationship with God. The Good Samaritan’s kindness and compassion (see Luke 10:30-37) stands in stark contrast to the wilful neglect of the two religious officials. It seems Jesus is every bit as concerned about the things we fail to do as he is with our actions and behaviour.
Where does this leave us? We can’t be everywhere! We can’t do everything! Paul has some good advice in this. ”Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:9, 10
If we are sincere in our commitment to God, and diligent in maintaining our relationship with him, he will provide opportunities for service to others and the resources we need to meet them. And the promise of a harvest at the proper time is all the incentive we need.
Are you ready for the opportunities God will open up for you today?
PRAYER: Father, forgive us for missed opportunities, for selfish preoccupation, for succumbing to worthless distractions. Help us to be faithful in the little things. Lead us to the people and the situations where we can make a difference. Shine your light through us today we pray, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
SONG: The Servant King by Maranatha Singers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5871LoE44Iw