Jesus has entrusted us, as His servants, to do His work and be obedient to the truth we’ve received. In Luke 12:40-48, He is telling us we are all to be managers of important resources. Some people do a good job and others are poor spiritual managers. In verse 35, Jesus begins warning His disciples to be ready for His return. Then, in verse 40, He says,
You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”
The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
“The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
In this parable, Jesus is the Master who has returned to heaven, but one day He is coming again. We are the servants who have been entrusted by Him to do His work. Jesus is coming back, and if He came today, what kind of servant would He find you to be?
I. THE MARKS OF A GOOD SERVANT
In verse 42, Jesus asks, “Who is the faithful and wise manager?” He then proceeds to answer His own question. Look at the qualities of a faithful and wise servant:
1. He is a Good Manager of God’s Resources
The Master has left each servant with some resources and left him in charge of a certain job. If you are a believer, Jesus has done the same for you. Everything good in your life has come as a gift from God. But it’s not yours to own; it’s only yours to manage. You may disagree and say, “That’s not so! I own a piece of property, my name is on the deed, and I paid for it. That’s why they call it REAL estate and it’s mine to do with as I please!” Okay, if you think you own it, then I want to see you come back in a thousand years and claim it. You don’t own it; you are only allowed to “manage” it for a few years, like the previous “owner” and the “owner” before that! The question the Master will ask you when He returns is, “Have you been a good manager of the resources I gave you?” Here are three areas for you to consider if you are being a good manager:
a) Your Time
God is going to give many of us around 70 or 80 years of time in this world. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:16 we should be “redeeming the time because the days are evil.” When the Lord asks you how well you managed the time He gave you, how will you reply?
What if every morning when you woke up, you found $1,440 cash in your pocket or purse? The only condition is if you don’t spend it all that day, you lose whatever money is left over. Do you think you would have any trouble spending $1,440? I imagine you would be careful to spend almost all of it every day! For some of you, it would only last a couple of hours in a nice store. Wouldn’t it be fun to try?
In reality, God does that for you every single day of your life. Now, He doesn’t give you dollars; He gives you something more valuable than that: time. Every day, God gives us 1,440 minutes. Are you spending them wisely? Are you being faithful to the Master in how you invest your time or are you wasting your time on things that don’t really matter in light of eternity?
In this life, there are only two things we deal with that are eternal: The Word of God and the souls of people. Think about it; the best way to spend your God-given time is by investing it in the Word of God or in the souls of people. Are you a good manager of your time or are you involved in so many frivolous sideshows you can’t focus on the main thing?
b) Your Talents
God gave you natural abilities at your physical birth and He gave you at least one spiritual gift at your spiritual birth. Are you using your abilities to serve the Lord or to serve your own interests?
Some of you think there’s nothing you can do for the Lord. You are so shy you’d be afraid to lead a prayer in the nursery! But God has given you some special abilities. Each Christian is totally unique within the Body of Christ. You have a special “shape” nobody else has; that’s why you are needed. When you consider your unique talents and abilities, there is nobody else like you in our church. That’s why God is going to hold you accountable.
I started preaching when I was 15 years old. My first sermon was at a small church, but I preached the message as if there were thousands there. I memorized parts of a Billy Graham sermon he had preached in a stadium. At the end of message, I got so carried away I said, “In just a moment, I’m going to give the invitation. Hundreds are going to come forward in this holy moment!”
God may not have called you to preach, but He has put you in charge of something. Are you being a faithful, wise, manager?
c) Your Treasure
God has given everyone of us some financial or material resources. Remember, it all belongs to God, but He has allowed us to manage some of it for a while. The Master is coming back. Will He find you’ve been a wise manager or will you be a mis-manager?
2. A Good Servant is given Greater Responsibilities
Jesus said the Master will give that good servant a greater responsibility. There is a very important managerial principle at stake here. Jesus expressed it in Luke 16:10: “Whoever can be trusted with very little, can be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
This is true in business just like it’s true in spiritual life. I read once about a group of executives who were discussing promoting a certain worker to a place of much greater responsibility and much greater salary. They took a break for lunch and one of the executives just happened to be eating lunch at the same cafeteria where the worker was in line. The worker didn’t know his boss was in line behind him and he didn’t know he was being considered for a promotion. This was one of those cafeterias where you had to pay a few cents extra if you wanted small pats of butter for your bread. This particular worker took two or three pats of butter and slid them under the edge of his plate, obviously trying to hide them, so he wouldn’t have to pay for them. The executive watched as he reached the cashier, and the cashier never saw the butter and the worker never volunteered the information. After lunch the executive informed the rest of the group the man wasn’t their choice for a promotion. He said, “If he will steal a few cents from a cafeteria, he’ll steal more than that from our company.”
Jesus said if you are faithful in the small things, He’ll give you greater responsibility. There have been plenty of times when I’ve failed the Lord, but I’ve tried to always be faithful to my calling to preach. I have served at several churches and regardless of the congregation’s size, I’ve proclaimed God’s Word as if it was the greatest privilege on earth–and I think it is. You may not be called to preach like me, but if you are faithful to manage the gifts and resources God has given you, He will open up greater opportunities for you.
I wish I could end this message here, but in the text, Jesus also points out that some servants are irresponsible managers. They are bad servants. In Part 2, we will look at the mistakes of a bad servant.