The Review and Herald

337/1902

January 12, 1886

Faithful and Slothful Servants

EGW

All should now endeavor to realize the shortness and solemnity of the time in which we live. There is no time now to be spent in serving self, and in acquiring property for ourselves and our children. A change is soon to take place; a new order of things is to begin. The heavens are to be rolled together as a scroll. “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with power and great glory.” “The Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him; then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.” Then it is that “the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman and every freeman,” will receive as their works have been. Solemn hour when the servants are reckoned with, and retribution is awarded to all! There is no second trial. Probation is forever ended. All unbelief in regard to the claims of God's law here ceases; for it is by this standard that all are judged. Every eye then sees him; and every soul then realizes what has proved his ruin. It is then seen and acknowledged that God's law governs all created intelligences. There is none to question his authority. Scoffers no longer say, “Where is the promise of his coming?” neither do they wonder that a peculiar people believed in, and waited for, their Lord's appearing. The reason of this is apparent to all. His coming is the greatest event in the world's history. Those who have had respect to all his commandments, are then classed among the loyal and true, and rewarded with eternal life. RH January 12, 1886, par. 1

Will not my brethren and sisters be aroused before probation closes, to see that fidelity to Christ in this life will meet with a sure reward when he shall give to every man according as his works have been? Shall we not begin to trade more diligently upon our intrusted talents? Many who think quite well of themselves, and approve of other's laboring and feeling the burden for souls, are doing nothing themselves. The Lord plainly states what he thinks of those who sit at ease while others do the work. They are represented by the slothful man in the parable. “I was afraid,” says the delinquent, “and went and hid thy talent in the earth.” “I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed.” The Lord replies, “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow; wherefore then gavest thou not my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have received mine own with usury?” Then says he to them that stand by, “Take the talent from him;” take away all my gifts and endowments, and all his opportunities for usefulness. He will be of no use in my kingdom. For a time I lent him talents, and gave him opportunity to use them to my glory. He saw others at work, and might have joined them and done much good; but he had no love for me or my service; his life was spent in serving self. The pound that I gave him, he wrapped in a napkin and hid in the earth, and now he says, Here, Lord, is the talent that thou gavest me. This indolent servant now sees those whom he considered far inferior to him in talents and capabilities, receiving large gifts from their Lord, and hears the awful words from the King, “Those mine enemies, which would not that I should rule over them, bring hither and slay them before me.” God's claims cannot be set aside with impunity. RH January 12, 1886, par. 2

In this parable two classes are presented,—the workers and the idlers. All have received talents, and all can use them in the service of the Master; but many choose to use them to please themselves. They put skill, tact, perseverance, and energy into their business transactions. They see opportunities to do good, but their feelings are, “Some one who has been doing this work, understands it better than I. I will let him do the work. I will go to my farm.” Another says, “I will go to my merchandise. I do not like the rigid requirements of God's word that leave a man no chance to build up his own interests.” There are many who act out these words, if they do not say them. Too little is said to stir up these non-workers; but if anything is said, many pay no attention. The Lord Jesus is soon to “be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” You who have hid your Lord's talents, may think that this plain, decided warning is not the way to preach the gospel of peace; but it is just the way that Christ preached it, and it will be his way of fulfilling what he has said would take place. Men neglect all the claims of Jehovah, disregard his holy law, disappoint his expectations in everything, and yet they feel that they are not the ones who will be punished. It is the blasphemer, the murderer, the adulterer, who deserves punishment. They themselves have really loved to hear the gospel preached. True, they have spent their lives in caring for their own interest, instead of helping to build up their Master's kingdom; yet they would be surprised to hear the words, “Take the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.” “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” How terrible is the self-deception of those souls who are at ease in Zion! They believe everything in God's word which flatters their self-love; but they heed not the warnings and denunciations that make them uncomfortable. Like the Jews, many mistake the enjoyment of their privileges for the benefit they should derive from them. RH January 12, 1886, par. 3

It is a great step heavenward, not only to see and love the truth, but to carry it out in the daily life. How changed will a man become under its sanctifying influence! “Wherefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” His words and deportment are so ennobled, so elevated, that it can in truth be said of him, “He is a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Laying aside every weight, and the sin,—unbelief,—that doth so easily beset him, he will run the Christian race with patience. RH January 12, 1886, par. 4

In marked contrast to the class here mentioned are those whom Christ represented by the barren fig-tree. When the cruel act of Pilate in mingling the blood of the Galileans with the sacrifices was reported to Jesus, he discovered in those who bore the news to him, a self-sufficient, self-righteous spirit; and he reproved them, saying, “Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” He then gives them the parable of the fig-tree, thus impressing upon them the fact that natural endowments, national blessings, and religious privileges greatly increase individual responsibility. They had taken it for granted that their superior advantages, and the favors they had received from God, gave them a right to claim all the blessings he had promised to the faithful on condition of obedience. But they had not been obedient. They were apparently in a flourishing condition; but they were destitute of fruit. They stood in proud, pretentious display; but they failed to exert a religious influence upon others. They were satisfied with doing no positive injury; but this did not satisfy their Saviour. He expects of every one of his followers good works. But after he has waited patiently year after year, and been disappointed, the commandment is given, as to the barren tree, “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?” RH January 12, 1886, par. 5

Let every one inquire, What is my condition before God? Is Jesus disappointed in me from year to year? Am I a fruitless tree in the Lord's garden? It is not an orchard or a vineyard that is presented before us in the parable; it is a single tree. Its history is that it bore no fruit; its destiny is, to be cut down. The work of overcoming is an individual work. During the past summer many of our brethren have in various ways received additional light, and enjoyed precious privileges. This increased light only makes your cases more aggravated and your doom more certain, if fruit does not appear. Will you now go to work for the Master, or will his solemn inspection after this additional light has shone upon you, still find you satisfied with yourselves and unconcerned for sinners. Will you now overcome the world, and, keeping close to the side of Jesus, learn to bear his yoke and lift his burdens? Will there now be found in the church burden-bearers,—not those who are trying to occupy the highest position, but those who are earnest, humble workers for Jesus? Fathers and mothers in Israel are everywhere needed,—those who will honor God in their families, in the church, among unbelievers, and wherever they are. Think of different ones for whom you can manifest an interest, and in the fear of God make personal efforts to reach them. Consider, oh! consider how many years you have occupied a place in the garden of the Lord, and how little fruit you have borne. RH January 12, 1886, par. 6

As long as probation lasts, there will be work to do for the Master; and his rich blessing will attend the worker who keeps self out of sight, and, with his heart filled with love, labors to seek and to save that which was lost. May God's converting power come upon the churches throughout the United States and Europe, that they may feel a burden for souls, for the souls for whom Christ died. RH January 12, 1886, par. 7

Christiania, Norway.