Fear Not

“The one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’

“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’

“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:24-30)

Jesus didn’t ask us to play it safe. He wants us to risk it all. The poet Rudyard Kipling wrote a famous poem called If in which he described what it meant to be an adult. One part of being an adult was the willingness to take risks and accept failure. In concluding the parable of the servants that were given talents, Jesus ends with the one who, given the least (of a still enormous sum of money) chose to do nothing with it. Instead, he claimed fear as his excuse: fear of losing what he’d been given

The master doesn’t accept fear as the real reason for the servant’s behavior. Unlike the servant in the parable in Luke, the servant in Matthew’s story not only has the single talent taken away, but he is cast into “outer darkness.” The weeping and gnashing of teeth is indicative of the regret the lazy servant suffered—his too late recognition of his bad behavior.

Jesus’ parable describes the kingdom of God. The wealth is distributed unevenly and the results are uneven. You can multiply only if you have something to multiply with. You can’t multiply by zero and get anything. An unproductive servant is no servant at all. Like a broken light switch, you might as well toss it out. Jesus wants us to risk everything for him.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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