Are you sure you want to serve God?
In Christianity there is great importance placed on becoming a “Christian.” One has the impression that becoming a Christian is the end-all in the life of a person. Interestingly, Jesus never mentioned the term “Christian” and he never told people to become Christians. He identified himself as the Messiah and told people to believe on him and to follow him. Following him means among other things that we obey his teachings. Found among his many teachings is this parable about a wise man and a foolish man.
Salvation or destruction
Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
One can become a Christian and attend church events faithfully to hear the word of the Lord. One can even serve in church. But what determines whether or not we will withstand the rain, the wind, and the streams we encounter in this life leading to the next life is whether or not we put into practice the words of Jesus Christ we find in Scripture. Many Christians hear the word of God, especially every Sunday in church. But it is likely that many if not most of them do not practice his words and obey his commands. If they do not, their house will not stand. This means that they will not enter eternal life.
It is fine to “become a Christian.” But if we do not put Christ’s words into practice and obey his commands, all the hours we spend serving in church will be in vain. We will fall with a great crash and fail to enter life. Let’s apply this now to those who consider themselves servants of the Master.
The faithful and wise manager
Luke 12:35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.
The wise and faithful servant will be waiting and watching for the return of his master. He is “ready” for his master’s return. Incredibly, the master will actually come and serve and wait on him at the wedding banquet. What does it actually mean for us to be waiting and watching and ready for Christ’s return? We will find out.
41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”
The Lord’s answer was that the parable was for servants of the master. We are all servants of the Master in some way. We have all been entrusted with something which we are to manage for him. Some of us have been put in charge of other servants to feed them at the proper time.
42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
The faithful and wise manager will devote himself to the work entrusted to him by his master. He will be busy overseeing the proper and regular feeding of his master’s servants. He will use the master’s funds to purchase the necessary ingredients in order to prepare good and nutritious food for his master’s servants. They need a high-quality diet to stay healthy in order to serve the master ably and fruitfully. But among the master’s servants there will always be foolish ones as well. They will not put their master’s words into practice; they will not do his will.
The foolish manager
45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
But there will be foolish managers who become complacent in the master’s long absence. They begin to mistreat the servants who are under their authority. The love of money and the love of the world take root in their hearts, and their work of feeding their master’s servants suffers. They use some of the funds entrusted to them for feeding the servants to enjoy life in the world instead—eating and drinking and getting drunk just as unbelievers and hypocrites do. With fewer funds available, the servants are fed poor quality food.
In this parable we learn that there are servants of God in the Church who indeed do this. They do not realize how close the Lord’s return could be. They are drawn to the world and to the comforts it offers. They take offerings from God’s people to finance a very comfortable and even luxurious lifestyle. They justify it by saying that their Father owns everything and loves them and wants to bless them with earthly comfort. After all, God loved Solomon and made him the richest man who ever lived.
They feed God’s people a diet of sugary soft drinks—God loves them and wants to bless them with “success” in this life. The solid food of holiness and sacrificial obedience and self-control is mostly withheld. If indeed it is offered, it is only as a carrot to lead God’s people to earthly blessings. It is not for the sake of pleasing the Lord to maximize our heavenly reward.
There are foolish and faithless managers in the Church who are in authority over God’s people today. They have heard and know Jesus’ words, but do not put them into practice; they do not obey his commands. They have become friends of the world and love their lives in this present world. They are hirelings who care not for the sheep. Their hearts are set on extending their own little kingdom on earth: their ministry.
How many foolish servants are there in the Church?
Jesus also taught a similar parable about ten virgins. These virgins were given the task of preparing the bride for the bridegroom. This would appear to be an obvious reference to pastors and leaders whose job is to prepare God’s people for the second coming of Jesus Christ—the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
Matthew 25:1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 ”‘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.’
10 “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.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Fully one half of the ten virgins were unprepared and foolish, and were denied entrance to the wedding banquet. This tells us that many servants of God—not a small majority of them—are foolish, and will not make it to the wedding banquet of the Lamb. They do not keep watch and are not ready for the Lord’s return. They are not properly doing their job of preparing God’s people for the Second Coming of the Messiah.
Instead, they are giving God’s people a constant diet of how much God loves them and wants to bless them. They teach them how to maximize God’s earthly blessings and to be “successful” on earth. They do not teach them to fear God and to keep His commandments in view of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Interestingly, this was the conclusion reached by Solomon, the richest man who ever lived.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Whatever the Lord assigns us to do in the Church, we must do it faithfully and fruitfully in anticipation of his appearing. We serve not for selfish gain, but to prepare a holy and obedient people ready for his return. It will be disaster for the servant who is found sleeping—meaning, eating and drinking and loving his life in the world like an unbeliever—when the Lord comes. This applies to every believer.
Mark 13:33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
1 Thessalonians 5:7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.
Two thousand years ago Jesus taught that at the end of the age when he returns, there will be many foolish servants who will not be ready for his return. They will be denied entrance to the wedding banquet of the Lamb. His words are being fulfilled today during these last days. There are now serious problems in the Church and among God’s servants. Many are hirelings who simply make their living off of the sheep and are in ministry to extend their own personal kingdom on earth.
Bob Phillips, the highly-regarded Pastor who has been on the American church scene for many years, made the following remark at his morning service in Houston’s Encourager Church the last Sunday of 2009. Bob said that he knows very many ministers, and some of them are phenomenal speakers. But they are in it for their ministry, and not to be ruled by God.
He who has ears, let him hear.
Are you sure you want to serve the Lord? And if you are, are you ready for the Lord’s return?