By Tom Wiles | For The Times-Post
The master was full of praise. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. …” — Matthew 25:14-30
It was written there in bright red pen. It had to be true.
Growing up, I had a few teachers on occasion write those inspiring words on my test, a homework assignment or a paper I had written.
It wasn’t something that happened on a regular basis, so that when it did, it made me feel really good.
My hard work paid off.
I made sure my parents saw it.
I even put it on the refrigerator myself!
It’s inspiring just saying the words.
Jesus knew that. It’s why he featured the phrase in his parable.
The vast majority of people value encouragement and the recognition of a job done well.
Each of the servants in Jesus’ parable were given resources perfectly prepared for them.
Each of the servants was called, trusted and equipped.
The first two were honored by the master when he returned.
“Well done!” he told them.
Why? They were “good and faithful.”
The last one? Not so much.
We read the story and ponder the same question Jesus’ original listeners did.
Which one am I?
It’s not a function of what we’ve been given.
We’re all given different resources befitting of who God made us to be.
It’s not a function of information either.
The last servant knew everything about the master that the first two servants knew.
And yet, he buried his master’s money.
“Wicked and lazy,” Jesus said.
Which phrase would Jesus hang on our refrigerator today?
This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You have said, “I am overwhelmed with trouble! Haven’t I had enough pain already? And now the Lord has added more! I am worn out from sighing and can find no rest.” — Jeremiah 45:1-5
So, there I stood at the sink. The mountain of dishes from a big family gathering all rinsed and loaded in the dishwasher.
I was quite satisfied and relieved as I dried my hands on the dish towel.
Then I heard it, “clink, clank and clunk.”
“Really,” I whined to myself. More dishes!
They began showing up from the recesses of the house.
Ugh! I was worn out with dishes.
“Poor me,” I thought as my wife piled in a few more dishes with a wry little smile on her face.
Baruch was worn out.
Being the despised prophet’s right-hand man truly did have its disadvantages.
All the mockery and abuse that Jeremiah experienced, so did Baruch.
His life was being threatened and his future wasn’t terribly bright.
God met him in the middle of his struggle to remind him that judgment was coming to Judah.
No big payday or honors were awaiting him.
However, God did tell him he would reward him with his life.
For that, be thankful.
In the same vein as God’s dealing with Baruch, Paul wrote this for us in Galatians 6:9, “Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
There are many sources of fatigue in our lives and God speaks to them as well.
However, the weariness of obedience is to be addressed with perseverance.
Be very careful to keep your focus on Jesus and not the work you’re doing.
Strength comes from him, not what we do.
Why we praise
Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. — Psalm 103:1-22
Coming to a meeting with people you know are grumpy or perhaps being the grumpy person yourself, is one of the least enjoyable experiences in life.
Years ago, in preparation for just such a meeting, someone suggested we include praising God through song.
Honestly, it was as awkward as you are imagining it to be, but it also, by God’s grace, lowered the temperature.
It was truly special experiencing the Lord inhabiting the praises of his people.
In this Psalm, David provides a deluge of reasons as to why he and why we should praise God.
This compilation of the numerous expressions of God’s love is bookended with the only reasonable response — “Let all that I am praise the Lord.”
The reasons generally fit into two categories.
The first is all the blessings we don’t deserve that he has given us, and the second is all the discipline we do deserve that he refrains from giving us — grace and mercy.
As you consider the items from each list, which ones really resonate with you?
The implications of any one of them are truly staggering.
David is challenging his people and us as we read to ask ourselves one fundamental question, “If all these things are true, why is there so little praise coming from his people?”
Praise is like rolling a snowball downhill, once we start it, it gains mass, acceleration and impact.
Ultimately, it alters every aspect of life.
Tom Wiles is senior minister of Fall Creek Christian Church in Pendleton. He can be reached at 765-778-3166.