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7 & 8 May 2022 (Pastoral Page) OUR GREATEST JOY WHEN WE SERVE THE LORD

By Dn Samuel Chan

Recently, I received a letter from my company about getting a performance bonus. In it, the reason for the bonus was stated: "Because of your dedication, tenacity and hard work...". Although the bonus received was not as much as in previous years, when I saw the company's affirmation of my work, I felt joyful that my work in the past year had not been in vain.

This reminded me that we have the Lord in heaven who is even more worthy of our service, and who has entrusted us to do His work. What attitude do we hold to accomplish His work and what kind of affirmation do we expect to receive from Him? Are we looking forward to receiving praise from the Lord more than the praises from others on earth?

In Matthew 25:14-30, we learn how God has entrusted us with His work and what His expectations are of us, and how to prepare ourselves for the Lord's return.

First, we can see that our Lord gives different amounts to His servants according to their different abilities. In the parable, one was given five bags of gold, another two bags, and another one bag. If we calculate the amounts given according to their equivalent value in our time, the servants would have received 82 years’, 33 years’ and 16.5 years’ worth of an ordinary labourers’ wage respectively. Even when we look at the servant who received the least, we cannot claim that he had too little to work with! The Master had given them enough for many things to be done. Likewise, we cannot say that our gifts are inadequate and that we cannot accomplish anything with them.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.… So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.(c.f. Ephesians 4:7-12)

We cannot say that we do not have the gifts or time to do God's work, because God has given us enough gifts and grace through the Holy Spirit to help us do His work. What matters today is how we will treat the five “bags of gold”, two “bags” or one “bag” that God has given us – how are we going to use these resources?

Second, God has given us enough time to learn to do His work. Although the Scriptures give us the impression that the ones who took the five and two bags of gold doubled their given amounts quickly, they in fact took some time to do this (verse 19 mentions that it took a long time for the master to return). Although God has given each of us different identities, positions, education, jobs, characters, strengths, and weaknesses, we have all received the same call from God to build up the body of Christ and the same amount of time each day and week to work out that calling. So, the issue is not whether we have enough time but how much time we are willing to spend working for God. Are we willing to use the same hardworking mentality we apply to our other pursuits to accomplish the work God has given us?

Third, the Lord will come back one day to settle accounts with us (Matthew 25:19). In the parable, the Master gave the same praise to the servants who had multiplied their five and two bags of gold respectively (“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things”), as well as the same rewards (“I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”). As for the servant who buried the gold in the ground and did nothing, the master drove him out, and he could only regret his actions.

Faced with the needs of the church today, especially that of renewing the church leadership, the call to rise up as disciples who make disciples of the Lord, community outreach and evangelism, etc., each of us has gifts from God to meet these needs and heed these calls. We can pray, we can share our faith experience with others, we can take the initiative to contact new friends, we can play support roles in the worship services. There are many ways we can serve God.

Just as we complete the earthly work entrusted to us by our superiors with all our hearts, we should also complete the work entrusted to us by the God who has redeemed our lives. When the Lord returns for us, I hope we can all hear His affirmation of us: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" This will be our greatest joy when we serve the Lord in this life. Amen.

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