“Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21, 23)
As followers of Jesus, these are words we all long to hear when we stand before the throne of glory. When the struggles of this life are finally finished, when Jesus wipes every tear from our eyes. We desire to hear these words and breathe a sigh of relief, knowing we did all we could to serve Him.
We did it.
These thoughts may cause you to wonder what you need to accomplish on earth in order to hear this blessing. Without realizing it, you create a laundry list of ways to please God.
Serve in church. Sponsor an orphan in a foreign country. Volunteer at a homeless shelter once a quarter. Work for a ministry.
And the list goes on and on until you don’t feel guilty anymore for sitting down to watch Netflix.
Am I enough?
But then you read about someone who gave up everything they have in America and moved to Africa or India or somewhere way more sacrificial than where you are. You read about Jesus talking to the rich young ruler, telling him unless he sells all he has to give to the poor, it will be very difficult for him to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mark 10:17-27).
Suddenly, serving on Sunday mornings doesn’t seem enough, and living an ordinary life for God doesn’t feel sacrificial at all.
Here lies the proof of why it’s dangerous to take scripture out of context. “Well done, good and faithful servant” wasn’t spoken to a man who sacrificed everything. It wasn’t spoken to a man who uprooted his life just to please his master.
These words were spoken to a man who worked hard multiplying what his master had given him. He wasn’t afraid of what his master would say, he simply used the resources given him to increase his master’s wealth.
No more guilt
In the same way, we don’t need to fear what God will tell us when we stand before Him one day, using that fear to drive us to serve beyond our capacities. We simply need to work hard with what He has given us.
If He has given you the drive and the passion to sell all you have and move to Africa, it would be sinful to say no. If He has given you a passion and told you to serve each week in your church, it would be sinful to ignore that and sell all you have to give to the poor, because that is not what God is calling you to do.
God wants your heart. He wants you to multiply what He’s given to you. That may mean you serve with all your heart while staying right where you are. It may even mean crossing out one or two of the tasks on your “Well done, good and faithful servant” list, because you know you’re only doing it out of guilt and out of fear of not being or doing enough.
Stop thinking your “ordinary” life of service does not accomplish enough for God. Because, honestly, God does not need you. He doesn’t need your acts of service. But He wants you. He wants you to use the gifts He has given you. He certainly doesn’t want you to make up gifts just so you can feel as if you’re accomplishing more for Him.
Warning: This is not a sneaky way to cop out of your responsibility to serve God with all your heart, mind and soul. Using the excuse, “Well, God doesn’t really need me, so I’m going to take the month off of serving,” will not go over well as the Holy Spirit convicts you.
We must serve God with a joyful heart, using the gifts He has given us and sacrificing along the way. We are commanded to use our gifts to serve others (1 Peter 4:10). But this does not mean serving out of the guilt we feel when we see others using their gifts in a way we are not using ours.
Take time to pray through all the different ways you are serving. What are your motives? Are you serving to look good or to check something off your list? Are you serving to multiply what God has entrusted to you?
Rid yourself of the guilt and excuses. Serve God with a joyful heart. You have nothing to prove, faithful servant. Strive after your Savior, and yearn with excitement instead of fear for the day when you see Him face to face. When you hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Let’s Talk About It: How does your heart change with each act of service? Why do you serve?