(January 15, 2020) Dr George Forbes, missionary statesman, reminds us of Jesus’ challenges and warnings …
We’re already almost halfway the first month of 2020! Christmas is over… and whatever gifts we were given are parts of last year’s history.
However, thinking of gifts given reminds me strongly of the greatest gift ever, that of God’s gift of salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16).
What a glorious free gift from God, all because of his love for us (Ephesians 1:4) and his incredible grace (Romans 5:15)! Unworthy though we are, we have received so much!
As I meditate on God’s goodness, I recall afresh just how much we’ve been given. And I’m also reminded that as disciples of Christ it is our responsibility to share this good news with others – as required by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, those scriptures known as the Great Commission.
Much given, much required!
In Luke 12 Jesus told a parable about responsibility that speaks of blessings to those who have been given much when the master returns… but also of warnings.
Verse 48 is quite sobering – ‘But he not knowing, and doing things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For to whomever much is given, of him much shall be required. And to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.’
The context in which Jesus told this parable about ‘being ready’ to his disciples is important. He described a situation of servants…
- Waiting for their master to return from an important wedding feast (v36).
- Needing to be ready to open the door immediately on his knock (v35).
- Required to be dressed, their lamps lit and ready at any hour of the day or night to welcome their master home (V36).
This parable told by Jesus clearly points to the necessity of being ready, dressed, watching and expecting the master’s return at any time and being faithful in everything. And that when the master returns, he will truly bless them.
It’s one parable I suggest that goes together with another, the one of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). It is also interesting that Matthew also tells of the parable of the unwise servants in verses 14-30 of this chapter. These two parables deal with very important matter, which I invite the reader to consider. They deal with essentially the same vital issue… being ready for the coming of the Lord!
The glorious hope of Christ’s literal, visible return, known as the second coming has been a cornerstone of Christian faith for generations. These parables approach this event differently; however they give similar warnings and promises. In each parable Jesus taught his disciples that they must be ready, dressed, watching, expecting – and thus faithful.
Responsibility and accountability
The principle of accountability based on responsibility applies to the lessons taught in this parable. The servants knew well that they were accountable to their master, their responsibilities and potential rewards. And they knew that they must be ready!
And they knew too that any servant who had been told his master’s will and yet made no preparation and did not obey his will, would receive many lashes. (And that even a servant who had not been told, yet did what deserved the scourge, would receive few lashes).
The parable concludes with the sobering words of verse 48: ‘When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.’ That’s from the NLT version… other translations render it equally strongly –
- ‘Everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded’ (GNB)
- ‘Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. Even more will be asked of the person who is supposed to take care of much’ (NIrV)
- ‘Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities! (Mge)
It seems to me that the Lord Jesus was giving his disciples a challenge… with a warning. He was training them for the biggest task on earth (Link: Biggest Business in the World), so he needed to prepare them well.
Note well: This challenge wasn’t only for the first disciples, but every disciple in every generation. We too in our generation have the same responsibility given to us in respect of the Great Commission of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). Our responsibility and opportunity are inescapable!
In Luke 12:37(KJV) Jesus tells that such servants, whom their master when he comes shall find on the watch, are blessed. Modern versions speak of being rewarded.
God has already given so much to believers who follow Jesus Christ: We have…
- Been forgiven all our sin, transformed by the ministry of the Holy Spirit working within us.
- Eternal life, because we are now children of God.
- Peace with God as well as the peace of God.
- Been called out of darkness into the light of God, to be light bearers in the world.
- Been so blessed by God because of his love through to sacrifice of his eternal Son, Jesus.
- A high and holy calling.
- The support and strength of the body of Christ.
- The power of united prayer.
- The example of faithful men and women who served God before us.
- The word of God.
- The indwelling Holy Spirit.
Much… much given, much required…
Yes, much has been given and in respect of much being required of us we have so much going for us to cause us to be faithful servants! Paul’s letter to the Romans contains a wonderful declaration in the eighth chapter, verses 31, ‘God is for us, who can be against us?’
Therefore, as we move head in 2020, may we allow nothing to hold us back from witnessing Jesus Christ and what he means to us! We’re overcomers and we have the back-up of the anointing and power of the Spirit of God as we serve the Lord as his witnesses.
We may not know exactly when our master will return but he will! I encourage all believers to be ready by being faithfully active in reaching out to the unsaved, praying for and backing our missionaries, doing whatever God has called us to do for him. Great rewards are in store!
Dr George Forbes is internationally recognised as a missionary spokesperson with a heart for the lost of the nations. With a wealth of missionary knowledge and a unique ability to communicate the global picture, he is widely known as the ‘story-teller.’ (Editorial note: We ask readers to be praying for Dr Forbes as he is undergoes special medical treatment)