For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.” Matthew 25:14. The one with the five talents worked with them by trading and made five more talents. “His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’ ” Matthew 25:21. The same thing happened to the man with two talents.
What happened to the man with one talent? Why did he not work it? He just had one talent, and he complained. He received no commendation from the Lord. “The Lord said to him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.” Matthew 25:26, 27
What will it take for the Lord to say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” to me? Will the Lord say, “Well done” if I am hard-hearted?
Do You Have a Talent?
“To every man is committed individual gifts. Some regard these talents as being limited to certain men who possess superior mental endowments and genius. But God has not restricted the bestowal of His talents to a favored few.” Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1100
“To every one is committed some special endowment for which you will be responsible by the Lord.” Ibid. Six different things are listed, one may be your gift. “Time, reason, means, strength, mental powers and tenderness of heart all are gifts from God and trusted to be used in the great work of blessing humanity . . . The Lord is watching everyone to see whether he will use his talents wisely and unselfishly, or whether he will seek his own advancement. The talents are distributed to every man according to his several ability that he may add to them by wise investment. Each one must give an account to the Master for his own actions . . . The Lord will not require from those who are poor that which they have not to give. No one need mourn because he cannot glorify God with talents that were never intrusted to him. But if you only have one talent, use it well and it will accumulate.” Ibid.
How Do You Spend Your Time?
The goods we have received are not our own and that includes our time. Also, the reason, the means, the strength, and the mental powers, are not ours. They belong to the Lord. He will require of us an account. We are only stewards for all these things that God has given to us.
At one time I worked as a colporteur in Germany. A lady we were trying to sell the magazines to told us she had no time to read. We asked, “Why not?” She replied that she worked from 6:00 AM until 10:00 PM. We asked her, “What’s wrong with before 6:00 and after 10:00?” She bought the magazine.
Ellen White says, “Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than our time. The value of time is beyond computation. We have no time to waste. We have no time to devote to selfish pleasures. We have no time for the indulgence of sin.” Christ Object Lessons, 342. Why do people devote their time to selfish pleasures? We do things because we like them, and that is our problem. The question is, how do I reform? If we are expecting to hear the words “Well done,” it is required of us to be faithful in the little things. Jesus says in Luke 16:10, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.”
Inspiration tells us about little things.
“Holy angels whose work it is to watch the development of character and weigh moral worth make a record of every transgression in the books of heaven. In the day of judgment many will be shut out of the city of God by sins which they supposed to be unworthy of notice.” Signs of the Times, December 17, 1896
“Faithfulness in little things should characterize the life. True integrity should mark every course of action. It is conscious attention to what the world calls little things that makes a great beauty and success of life. Little deeds of charity, little words of kindness, little acts of self-denial and wise improvement of little opportunities, a diligent cultivation of little talents, make great men in the sight of God.” Youth Instructor, April 21, 1898
Count the Cost
“Well done” includes such things as our commitments. When we make a commitment, the Lord expects us to keep it. Before we make a commitment, we should first think it over. We should count the cost.
Do not make a commitment you know that you cannot meet later. Many times people make commitments because it makes them feel good. Sometimes that is why people get married. It feels good right now and they do not count the cost. But we need to count the cost.
Do you think that men count the cost before they commit sin? The Bible says the wages of sin is death. If people realized that when they sin, they are working for the wages of eternal death, would they think twice? Jesus says, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34.
Is sin a choice? No one is forcing us to sin. We have a choice. “It is Satan’s act to tempt you, but your own [choice] act to yield.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 623. The devil tempts and we yield. This statement continues, “It is not in the power of all the host of Satan to force the tempted to transgress.” Ibid. The devil cannot make you do it.
“Satan cannot touch the mind or intellect unless we yield to him.” Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1105. The devil is not able to force us against our will. He can only do it if we allow him to. When we are under pressure, we should call upon the name of the Lord, who is our strong tower.
Jesus expects total commitment. “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:37, 38. What does it mean to take up the cross of Christ? “To bear the cross of Christ is (first) to control our sinful passions, (second) to practice Christian courtesy even when it is inconvenient to do so, (third) to see the wants of the needy and distressed and deny ourselves in order to relieve them, and (fourth) to open our hearts and our doors to the homeless orphan, although to do this may tax our means and our patience.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 627. That is what the prophet said it means to bear the cross of Christ. “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33
“He who does not give himself wholly to God is under the control of another power.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessings, 94.
If I do not give myself 100% to God, I am under the control of Satan. It is going to be either 100% or nothing. “Satan takes control of every mind that is not decidedly under the control of the Spirit of God.” Testimonies to Ministers, 79. “Almost but not wholly saved, means to be not almost but wholly lost.” Christ Object Lessons, 118. If you think about these statements, what does it take for Jesus to say, Well done, thou good and faithful servant”?
There will be a group of people who will be wholly and totally committed to Jesus Christ. They are described in Revelation 14:1-5. They will follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
Inspiration says, “Half-hearted Christians are worse than infidels. For their deceptive words and non-committal positions lead many astray. The infidel shows his colors, the lukewarm Christian deceives both parties. He is neither a good worldling nor a good Christian and Satan uses a lukewarm Christian to do a work that no one else can do.” Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 963. We must be 100% for Jesus because He will not tell us “Well done,” if we are only half and half, lukewarm, sitting on the fence, halting between two opinions.
God will not say to Laodicea, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” unless Laodicea is converted. We need to make a total commitment to Jesus. We need to be consecrated to Him and by His grace we shall conquer.
Do You Pass the Test?
Here is a self-test. “Let no one deceive his own soul in this matter. If you harbor pride, self-esteem, a love for the supremacy, vainglory, unholy ambition, murmuring, discontent, bitterness, evil speaking, lying, deception, slandering . . . you have not Christ abiding in your heart, and the evidence shows that you have the mind and character of Satan, not of Jesus Christ . . . You may have good intentions, good impulses, can speak the truth understandingly, but you are not fit for the kingdom of heaven.” Testimonies to Ministers, 441. God gave us these instructions to help us. We must be totally committed to Jesus Christ. When we have that type of commitment, then Jesus can give us the welcome as expressed in Matthew 25:21, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Meek but Unyielding
James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and He will flee from you.”
Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1003, says, “True Christian character is marked by a singleness of purpose, an indomitable determination which refuses to yield to worldly influences which will aim at nothing short of the Bible standard. Moses stood for the right, but he was meek at the same time.”
“Those who can be bribed or seduced or terrified will be of no service in the Christian warfare. Those who set their affections on worldly treasures or worldly honors will not push the battle against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. All who would be soldiers of Christ must gird on the whole armor and prepare for the conflict. They should not be intimidated by threats, or terrified by dangers. They must be cautious in peril, yet firm and brave in facing the foe and doing battle for God. The consecration of Christ’s followers must be complete. Father, mother, wife, children, houses, land’s, everything must be held secondary to the work and to the cause of God.” Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1003.
We Must Sacrifice All
In Testimonies to the Church, vol. 1, 126, it says, “Those who are willing to make any sacrifice for eternal life, will have it.” If we are committed to gain eternal life, we will get it. The problem is that if we are not committed 100%, we will not get it.
In Messages to Young People, 29, it says, “Make it the law of your life from which no temptation or side interest shall cause you to turn, to honor God.” How often do we have to make that decision? Every day.
You remember the vision Ellen White had about the two roads. There was a wide and a narrow road. She saw people walking on the wide road that had written on their garments, not “Adventist”, but something equivalent. But where were they? On the wide road. They made a great profession, but what did she say? Where were they going? They were going to eternal destruction. She says in Testimonies to the Church, vol. 1, 127, “The roads are distinct, separate, in opposite directions. One leads to eternal life, the other to eternal death. I saw the distinctions between the roads, also the distinction between the companies traveling them.” And what does she say about the distinctions—the two groups were different in four areas— “in character, in life, in dress, and in conversation.” Ibid. They looked different, they acted different, they talked different, and their hearts were different.
That was written in 1856. The general conference was not organized until 1863. So it was seven years before the general conference was organized. It says here in the first sentence, “I was shown in vision some things that concern the church generally.” Ibid. What was the church? It was not the general conference or any local conference (the first local conference was organized in 1861) But the church was there already. There is a statement in Testimonies, vol. 4, 402 that says, “Men who are not half converted, who are self-confident and self-sufficient in character, preach the truth to others. But God does not work with them, for they are not holy in heart and life.” What was the problem? The truth made no change in the life.
The Testing Place
How do you know if you are a Christian? Where is the best place to prove it? At home. There you find out if you are a Christian or not. How you treat your wife, your husband and your children? Inspiration tells us if we want to be saints in heaven, we must be saints first in our own families. This is how we can find out if we are Christians. We can check ourselves for what comes out of our mouth and how we treat others at home.
We live in the Day of Atonement. Inspiration tells us, “The great work is before us of leading the people away from worldly customs and practices, up higher and higher in spirituality.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 520
Jesus says if your right eye troubles you and it keeps you from entering the kingdom of heaven, get rid of it. (See Matthew 5:29.) So if our television gives us trouble, what should we do with it? Get rid of it, if it keeps us from heaven.
I believe it is time for God’s professed people to wake up and to make a total commitment to Jesus Christ, to be faithful to His work, to His law, to His instruction. It is time that we are concerned about the things of God instead of trying to be “nice guys” toward the world loving. The majority are concerned about the people around them and in pleasing them, but God is calling us to stand for something, to be counted on to preach the Word—the whole counsel of God. Doing this will not offend those who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
Forty Men of God
During the years of the pagan persecutions forty men of God were dragged on a cold winter night, out in the middle of a frozen lake and then they were soaked with water and put in a place out on the lake where the wind howled unobstructed against their form. They huddled together knowing that they could not live very long. On the shore, the Romans pitched camp and built huge fires and sent words to those 40 men, out there on that lake freezing to death that if any of them were ready to recant, they could simply indicate the same by walking out of that group, [that little unpopular minority] and take the stand with the majority. “Come over and join us at the fire. That’s all you have to do and warm up with us.”
Those men stood shivering and praying and they began to sing together, “Forty men of God are we, faithful forever we shall be. Forty men of God are we, faithful forever we shall be.” Their clothes began to harden on their bodies. It was not long before one had fallen over unconscious to await the voice of the Lifegiver, and the men put him just outside the group on the ice. But though there was one death, they continued to sing of him and of themselves, “Forty men of God are we, faithful forever we shall be.”
That song split the night air and floated across the frozen ice to the Romans where the captain heard it and he was disturbed. They kept on singing as they piled up the dead, one after another. “Forty men of God are we, faithful forever we shall be.” The Romans stood solemn, hearing, haunted, provoked, disturbed. They wouldn’t do that for their god. And the captain was impressed. The Holy Spirit began to work and to move on his heart and finally there was, among those Christians, one fellow who decided that he could not take it any longer. He would become a defector. He announced his intentions to his brethren, to their pity, and then he went walking across the ice towards that fire and they stood in silence watching him go.
When they saw him taken into the circle of the Romans, others were about to become discouraged when someone brought up the song again, “Thirty-nine men of God are we, faithful forever we shall be.” When the captain heard it, the power of heaven touched his heart and the love of Jesus, which is the only power that can save us and make us witnesses, came upon him and penetrated his armor and his very soul. He turned to his lieutenant and said, “You take charge here. You look after things.” He threw down his shield and his sword, dropped his buckler and went out across the ice. When he had taken his place among the frozen Christians, the song was heard again in greater volume, “Forty men of God are we, faithful forever we shall be.”
When we stand up and stop being like everybody else, when we are committed to His cause and quit being hypocrites, we will bring Romans out of their armor. Men will cry, “What shall I do to be saved?”