The Review and Herald



January 5, 1897

The Unfaithful Servant


“Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” RH January 5, 1897, par. 1

The teaching of this parable is plain. All the gifts of intellect or of property which any one has are entrusted to him. They are the Lord's goods, and are to be used to his honor and glory. They are to be improved and increased by use, that the Lord may receive returns from them. But the Lord receives no returns from many talents; for, like the unfaithful servant, those to whom they are entrusted put them where they are not increased. RH January 5, 1897, par. 2

All in whose hearts selfishness is cherished will listen to the temptations of Satan, and will act the part of the unfaithful, slothful servant. They will hide their entrusted treasure, neglecting to use their talents for the Lord. All such can reap only as they have sown. They have sown sparingly, or not at all, and they will reap sparingly. But although the Lord has told them this in words too plain to be honestly misconstrued, they cherish dissatisfaction in their hearts, and complain that the Lord is a hard master; that they are dealt hardly and unjustly with. By this they sow in other minds the seeds of discontent and unbelief. Agents of the enemy, by precept and example they lead others to neglect to obey God. Disaffection is sown, to yield a harvest of disaffection. RH January 5, 1897, par. 3

Today this work is being done by many who claim to know God. They speak in a repining, complaining manner of the Lord's requirements. They do not directly charge God with being unjust, but they complain of everything touching the question of using their influence or their means in his service. Whoever they may be, if those to whom the Lord has entrusted his gifts do not make the best use of their endowments, if they do not co-operate with the heavenly angels by trying to be a blessing to their fellow men, they will receive the denunciation from the Lord, Thou wicked and slothful servant. You had my gifts to use, but you neglected to use them. You claimed to know me, but your words in regard to my requirements were unjust. You, who thought you knew so much wickedly misrepresented me, and led others to think that I was unjustly hard and exacting. “Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” In that day these unfaithful servants will see their mistake, and will realize that by selfishly putting their talents where the Lord could receive no increase from them, they have not only lost all they had, but have lost also the eternal riches. RH January 5, 1897, par. 4

The Lord has spoken regarding those who complain of his dealings with them: “Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.” This spirit is cherished in the hearts of many. They are not sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and are discourteous, even to the Lord of Hosts, charging him with partiality and injustice. But those who reveal this distrustful, murmuring, jealous spirit do not keep the ordinances of the Lord, and their service is not accepted by him. RH January 5, 1897, par. 5

Never will a murmur that the Lord has dealt unjustly, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has not strewed, pass the lips of the true servant of God. Those who accept Jesus as their personal Saviour will live lives of humility, patience, and love. They did not give themselves to the Lord for the sake of the profit they should receive. They have become one with Christ, as Christ is one with the Father, and daily they receive their reward in being partakers of the humility, the reproach, the self-denial, and the self-sacrifice of Christ. They find their joy in keeping the Lord's ordinances. In true service they find hope, and peace, and comfort; and with faith and courage they go forward in the path of obedience, following him who gave his life for them. By their consecration and devotion they reveal to the world the truth of the words, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” RH January 5, 1897, par. 6

“They that feared the Lord,” writes the prophet Malachi, “spake often one to another; and the Lord harkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.” Were the words spoken, words of complaint, of faultfinding, of self-sympathy?—No; in contrast to those who speak against God, those who fear him speak words of courage, of thankfulness, and of praise. They do not cover the altar of God with tears and lamentations; they come with faces lighted up with the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and praise God for his goodness. RH January 5, 1897, par. 7

Such words make all heaven rejoice. Those who utter them may be poor in worldly possessions, but by faithfully giving to God the portion he claims, they acknowledge their indebtedness to him. Self-serving does not make up the chapters of their life-history. In love and gratitude, with songs of joy upon their lips, they bring their offerings to God, saying as did David, Of thine own we freely give thee. “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” Let there be silence while you think whether you are among the number that fear the Lord, and that think upon his name. RH January 5, 1897, par. 8

Christians are to recognize the fact that they are doing God's work. They must be faithful in the improvement of their days and hours, conscientiously discharging their God-given duties; for God will not accept haphazard work. We need to fear lest covetousness, which is idolatry, shall become a prevailing power; lest God's professed people shall stand before him guilty of the same sins as was the unfaithful servant. Those who truly serve God will fear him, but not as did the unfaithful servant, who hid his talent in the earth because he was afraid the Lord would receive his own. They will fear to dishonor their Maker by failing to improve their talents. RH January 5, 1897, par. 9

Those who work unselfishly, with an eye single to the glory of God, will grow in humility, in goodness, and in true Christian courtesy toward God and their brethren. Those who thus grow in humility and obedience will gain a knowledge of God's will, and will have increased power with God. The powers of darkness will press against them to hinder their progress in the divine life, and to hedge up the way, that the word of God may not be presented to others; but they depend upon an arm more mighty to save than that of man, and in his strength they gain the victory. RH January 5, 1897, par. 10

Christ has identified himself with suffering humanity, and in the lessons given just prior to his crucifixion, he has plainly specified the work he desires his servants to do. Any neglect on the part of professed Christians of the duty they owe to their brethren is an offense against Christ. Those who hide their talents, who refuse to impart their blessings to others, dishonor Christ in the person of his saints. Please read the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, and let all who have these illustrations before them think whether the words are applicable to them. We need to be filled with the breath and life of Christ, that we may be co-workers with him; for thousands are unconverted, thousands are dying without hope and without God in the world. RH January 5, 1897, par. 11

All are to be judged according to their works, not according to their profession. What revelations will be made in the day of Judgment! Many who have called themselves Christians will be found to have been not servants of God, but servants of themselves. Self has been their center; self-service has been their life-work. By living to please themselves and to gain all they could for themselves, they have crippled and dwarfed the capabilities and powers entrusted to them by God. They have not dealt honestly with God. Their lives have been one long system of robbery. These now complain against God and their fellow men, because they are not recognized and favored as they think they ought to be. But their unfaithfulness will be revealed in that day when the Lord judges the cases of all. He will return “and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” RH January 5, 1897, par. 12

In that day those who think that God will accept meager offerings and unwilling service will be disappointed. God will not put his superscription upon the work of any man, high or low, rich or poor, that is not done heartily, faithfully, and with an eye single to his glory. But those who have belonged to the family of God here below, who have striven to honor his name, have gained an experience that will make them as kings and priests unto God; and they will be accepted as faithful servants. To them the words will be spoken, “Well done, good and faithful servant: ... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” RH January 5, 1897, par. 13

“And I saw a great white throne,” writes John, “and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” “And he said unto me, It is done.... He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Is not this promise worth everything to us? Is not the reward which is to be given to every faithful servant large enough? And shall we not make it our life-work to offer our Maker faithful service, to keep his commandments, that we may be “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ,” counted worthy to “inherit all things”? RH January 5, 1897, par. 14