|Volume 23 Number 5 May 2021
I don’t know precisely when or where, but a few decades ago, I heard the late and esteemed brother Guy N. Woods remark that every judgment parable in the New Testament is not about bad things done, but rather they are about good things left undone. “…in the judgment parables spoken by the Lord, all of them dealt with those who did nothing, or little, as was the case with the foolish virgins and the one talent man (Matt. 25:1-30)” (Hearn 79). Someone in each judgment parable is condemned for not doing something rather than for doing something wrong. Personally, I find that thought scary. The judgment parables of our Lord, then, highlight the sin of omission. Along this line of thinking, the divinely inspired writer James penned, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (4:17 NKJV). It’s frightening to contemplate the sins of which I may be guilty personally because of laxity on my part “to do good.”
Certainly, we see in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) the concept of personal responsibility to act out our alleged loyalty to our Lord Jesus Christ. The wicked servant in that parable was not accused of committing heinous sins such as fornication or murder. Instead, he was a wicked servant because he omitted his obligation to do the work of a servant to his master.
The parable begins with the master of the estate entrusting three servants respectively with five talents, two talents and one talent. A “talent” originally was a weight of silver or gold before minting coins was commonplace (2 Samuel 12:30; 1 Kings 20:39). The marginal reading of the NKJV at verse 14 says, “A talent was a monetary unit worth about twenty years’ wages for a laborer.” The servants were expected to transact business dealings in the absence of their master (cf., Luke 19:13). Two of the servants did what was expected of them, earning a commensurate profit according to their respective resources and abilities. The servant who had received one talent did not do what was expected of him (Matthew 25:18). On that basis alone, he was deemed to be a “wicked and lazy servant” (Matthew 25:26), for which the master declared, “Cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness” – representing punishment in Hell.
Elsewhere, Jesus taught essentially the same lesson. Disciples of Christ are expected to produce “much fruit” (John 15:5, 8). Our Lord said, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [the Father] takes away…” (John 15:2). “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 7:19). Useless, withered branches are burned with fire (John 15:6) – representing punishment in Hell.
James 2:14-26 emphasizes the necessity of action rather than merely alleging loyalty to our Master – Jesus Christ. Ponder this divinely inspired logic. “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:18-20). The New Testament consistently teaches that we can be just as lost through the sin of omission as we can be lost through sins of commission.
Let’s not resign ourselves to be eternally lost while only mouthing allegiance to our Savior. Instead, let’s do something – do what is expected of us as the children of God, with a mind to hearing at the Judgment, “…‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord’” (Matthew 25:21).
Hearn, Roy J. “Qualifications and Role of the Eldership Responsibilities in Stopping Mouths of False Witnesses.” The Epistles of I and II Timothy, Titus. Memphis School of Preaching Lectureship. Curtis A. Cates, ed. Memphis, Tennessee: Memphis School of Preaching, 1994. 69-88.
I Sometimes Forget!
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Have you ever gone into a room searching for something, but when you got there, you forgot for what you were searching? I suppose we all have done that. Often, forgetfulness occurs more frequently as a person ages. In fact, some deal with severe memory loss in their sunset years. While some forgetfulness is inevitable, sometimes amid life’s daily challenges, I forget some things that I really need to remember!
Firstly, sometimes I forget my perspective. One thing I have really learned, especially during the last year, is how quickly a correct perspective can become obscured. Occasionally, I find myself getting twisted and tangled with the problems of the world, so much so, that I forget what my perspective should be. By perspective, I simply mean my outlook, my focus – what is truly important. No matter what the world around me is doing or becoming, I must not forget, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). My outlook, no matter what my surroundings are, is to be focused on God and His glory. When I allow the world and all of its problems to become my perspective, I can never ‘let the peace of God rule in my heart’ (Colossians 3:15). I can never be at peace with those around me (Romans 12:18), and I can certainly never rejoice as I need to (Philippians 4:4) as long as my perspective is wrested away from a focus on God. Our perspective must remain right if we are to remain right. Do not forget your perspective!
Secondly, sometimes I forget my passion. Sometimes, I allow myself to get so caught up in trying to fix all of the political and social ills our nation faces that I forget as a Christian I have a different passion than those with whom I associate in the world. As a child of the King, my passion must be for sharing His message and His love with everyone I meet. It is so easy to forget that political candidates, hot button issues, pandemics and everything else that the devil is currently using to divide us are not what my life is all about. My passion must be to light this dark world as well as to flavor and to preserve it with salt (Matthew 5:13-16). While Timothy was faced with all kinds of evil problems in his world, Paul reminded him what his passion needed to be: “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16). I simply cannot forget that my passion is not to argue and fight over trivial matters of this world, but to be patient, humble and kindly teach all men (2 Timothy 2:24-26). Dear friend, do not forget your passion!
Thirdly, sometimes I forget my power. I know it sounds silly, but sometimes I try to go it alone in this world. I sometimes rely way too much on myself and far too less on Jesus. I am ashamed about that, but sometimes I forget that in and of myself I am simply not good enough, righteous enough or strong enough to make it on my own. What I need to remember is that the only way I can be successful in this life and to advance to my heavenly home is to “…do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). My forgetfulness often puts me in the same boat as the Sadducees of Jesus’ day when our Lord said, “…you do not know the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). Jesus my Lord sustains everything by His power (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:16). While I intellectually know that God is so powerful that He can accomplish more than I could ask or even think (Ephesians 3:20), I sometimes forget it! I need God, daily and hourly. Even one second without Him would spell doom! May we never forget that!
Truth be told, sometimes I forget! I am certain that as I age, my forgetfulness may even increase. Many things may be forgotten, but my daily prayer and meditation must be to remember my perspective, my passion and my power. Much of the day’s anxieties and worries will quickly fade when our minds are refreshed with what really matters. Do not forget it!