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The Faithful Servant
and The Unfaithful Servant





  PART VIII: THE MISCELLANEOUS PARABLES

                                CHAPTER 37
 

                        Introduction

   Immediately  after   Jesus  told  the  Parable of the Householder
       and  the  Thief,  Peter asked him, "Lord are you  telling this parable to
       us, or to everyone?"  Then  Jesus  answered  Peter's  question with
       another parable, the Parable  of  the Faithful Servant and the Unfaithful
       Servant.  The Parable of the Faithful Servant and the Unfaithful Servant
       is found in Matthew 24:45-51 and Luke 12:41-46.
 

The Story
"Who then is the faithful  and  wise
                   servant,  whom  the  master  has  put  in
                   charge of the servants in  his  household
                   to  give  them  their  food at the proper
                   time?  It will be good for  that  servant
                   whose  master finds him  doing so when he
                   returns. I  tell you the truth,  he  will
                   put him in charge of all his possessions.

  But suppose that servant is wicked
                   and says to himself,  `My master is staying
                   away a long time,'  and he then begins to
                   beat  his  fellow servants and to eat and
                   drink with drunkards.  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  hypocrites,
                   where  there will be weeping and gnashing
                   of  teeth.     (Matthew   24:45-51,   New
                   International Version).

  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.  I tell you the truth,
                   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 menservants and  maidservants
                   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. (Luke 12:41-46,  New  Inter-
                   national Version).

 

                   The Interpretation
Three main truths are taught in this parable:

                  1.  Faithfulness.  Jesus  ties  faithfulness and wisdom
                  together. James also ties faithfulness and wisdom
                  together:

Who is wise and understanding among
                   you?    Let him show it by his good life,
                   by deeds done in the humility that comes
                   from  wisdom.    But if you harbor bitter
                   envy and selfish ambition in your hearts,
                   do not  boast about it or deny the truth.
                   Such "wisdom" does not come down from
                   heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of
                   the devil.  For where you have envy and
                   selfish ambition, there you find disorder
                   and every evil practice.

  But the wisdom that comes from
                   heaven is first of all pure; then  peace-loving,
                   considerate,  submissive,  full  of mercy
                   and good fruit,  impartial  and  sincere.
                   Peacemakers who  sow  in  peace  raise a
                   harvest of righteousness.  (James 3:13-18,
                   New International Version).

                   2.  Faithfulness will be rewarded with greater
                       responsibility.

                   3.  Wickedess will be judged (at an unknown time).

 
    When  Jesus  answered Peter's  question  with  another
           parable,  he left the question open.  This in itself is an
           answer:

              In effect He said, What  I  have  said  applies  to
              every  steward in the household who is faithful and
              true,  whether  in  a  special  sense   called to ministry,
              or not.  (Morgan, PARABLES AND METAPHORS
              OF OUR LORD, p. 192).

             The unwise steward made two mistakes:

              1.  He said,  "I will do what I like  while my master is
                  away."

              2.  He said,  "I have plenty of time to put things right
                  before the master returns."   (Barclay, DAILY STUDY
                  BIBLE SERIES, LUKE pp. 170 ff.).

            Barclay summarizes the fable of the Three Devils:

             There were three devils (demons) sent to earth to finish their
             apprenticeship.  They  had three plans.  The first devil's
             strategy was to tell people that there was no God.    He was
             not  very successful in capturing souls for hell.  The second
             devil's strategy was to tell people that there was no hell.
             He  was not very successful, either.   However, the third
             devil's strategy was to tell people that God did  exist,  and
             that  hell  also  existed,  but  THERE WAS PLENTY OF
             TIME FOR REPENTANCE.  He created a traffic jam on
             the  road to hell.

     Barclay concludes, "The most dangerous day in a man's life is
     when he learns there is such a word as TOMORROW."
     (Barclay, DAILY STUDY BIBLE SERIES, MATTHEW
     pp. 349 ff.).

     When  I  served  as  an Army Chaplain, a film version of this
     story entitled "The Third Devil" had a strong impact on young
     soldiers in basic training when I showed it to them. It was
     produced by the Order of St. Francis of Assisi.

                          Central Truth

  GOD REQUIRES FAITHFULNESS IN CHRISTIANS
                                   Conclusion

Let  us  be  awake  and  alert and  about  our  Father's business!
             If  there has been failure, the wise thing is to acknowledge it before
             God NOW.   Then, let us forget  past failures and move on to faithful
             service to the Lord.   END.