Focal Passage: Matt. 25:14-30
There is a stark contrast in this parable between the two servants who are rewarded and the one who is punished. The one operated out of fear. The others operated out of joy.
The Bible says that joy comes from being in a right relationship with the Master. The unfaithful servant only saw his master as a “hard man.” He had no love or respect for him. He just hoped to avoid punishment. The other two servants were eager to please the master. They were not afraid of the risks involved in their dealings. They went “at once” to invest the master’s money and were excited to show him what they had gained.
The joy they had led them to do the master’s will. David wrote in Ps. 51:12-13 — “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.”
Picture the women who had come to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. When they heard the news that Jesus was alive they “hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples” (Matt. 28:8). Paul describes the situation in the church of Macedonia: “Their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (2 Cor. 8:2).
Joy was also the reward for the faithfulness of the two servants: “Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matt. 25:23). When Jesus sent His followers on an evangelistic journey, preparing the way for Him to come, ‘The 72 returned with joy’” (Luke 10:17).
The only lasting motivation for Christian ministry is knowing that it will bring a smile to the face of God. In his book, Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner wrote: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
By that I think he means that we should find our calling in life by looking first at what God has entrusted to us. Perhaps it is the knack of conversation or the gift of teaching or the quiet spirit that allows us to listen to others. Then we need to find where we can invest that gift into the lives of other people. We need to keep our eyes and ears and hearts open to the places of need around us. When the thing that brings us joy also brings joy and life to others, God smiles.