Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Hesitant Servant

The “hesitant” servant was not cast off because he produced no results for his master (Matthew 25:14–30). He failed because he failed to do the thing his master asked him to do.

We’re not obliged to produce results either, for results are beyond our control. Our ministries may falter despite our best efforts. The important thing is to do what our Lord has asked us to do.

When we put our eyes on results we may end up doing things our Lord never asked us to do, or worse, we may do what he has asked us not to do. Obedience, however, always produces the result God desires, though we may not see it in our lifetime. Our task is “a long obedience in the right direction,”[2] not knowing the outcome, and leaving the consequences to God.

In C. S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, the children, Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole, are given a set of signs to follow. Later in the story there is a moment of grave danger in which they question the Lion’s wisdom. “Should we obey Aslan?” they ask themselves. “”Oh if only we knew!”

“I think we do know,” replied Puddleglum, the wise, old marsh–wiggle.

“Do you mean you think everything will come right…?” asked Scrubb.

“I don’t know about that,” Puddleglum replied. “You see Aslan didn’t tell Pole what would happen. He only told her what to do. That fellow will be the death of us once he’s up, I shouldn’t wonder. But that doesn’t let us off following the sign.”

Similarly, our Lord does not “tell us what will happen”; he only tells us what to do. If we choose to follow him in obedience. Things may, in fact, get worse! They did in Moses’ case whose obedience brought disheartening opposition from Pharaoh and from the folks he was sent to save. Nevertheless we can trust our Lord’s love and wisdom and follow him in quiet submission no matter what happens. In this way, like dutiful servants, we can “enter into the joy of (our) Lord.” (Matthew25: 21,23).


[1] Jesus’ word oknere, often translated “lazy,” means reluctant or hesitant.”
[2] Friedrich Nietzsche, Eugene Peterson and others

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