In Matthew 25, Jesus pitches three straight-shooting stories.
A story about ten bridesmaids (vv. 1–13).
Five were judged wise because they were prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom to begin the wedding banquet and five judged foolish because they weren’t.
It’s that simple: we are ready for the Lord’s return or we’re not.
“Always be ready,” he said, because two things are certain: 1) “You don’t know the day your Lord will come,” and 2) He “will come at a time you don’t expect him” (Mt 24:42, 44).
“Unprepared!” is an appalling ending.
2. Be Responsible
A story about three men and the use of their talents (vv. 14–30).
The owner gave resources to each; went away and left the use of those assets up to them; then returned and pronounced his verdict on their performance.
He gave to “each according to their ability.” No one was required to perform at the level of another’s ability; only to the best of their own. The two-talent servant was not required to produce at the level of the five-talent servant—but he was expected to produce, and he did. The one-talent servant was not required to produce at the level of the two-talent servant—but he was expected to produce, and he didn’t.
The five- and two-talent servants delivered a one hundred percent return on their master’s investment. The one-talent servant produced nothing. He returned what he had received, nothing more. He had done no harm; neither had he done any good. The master’s verdict for the five- and two-talent servants was, “good and faithful.” His verdict for the one-talent servant was, “wicked and lazy.”
Each of us has our given share of abilities, a trust to be used, and a responsibility to be acknowledged: “Master, you entrusted me with five talents . . . I have gained five more;” “Master, you entrusted me with two talents . . . I have gained two more;” “Master, you are a hard man . . . I hid your talent.”
The master entrusted talents to his servants in verses 14–18; then went away. He returned for an accounting in verse 19. You and I are presently living between verses 18 and 19.
The talent we’ve been given is a coin with two sides: on one side is written “endowment;” on the other side “responsibility.” Our master has gone away. He will be back. His verdict will be, “good and faithful” or “wicked and lazy.”
3. Be Reliable
A story about judgment day (vv. 31–46).
Our service to Jesus is judged by how we treat his little brothers and sisters. When we see their need and fill it, he says, “You did it to me.” His ruling?—“Take your inheritance—the kingdom reserved for you.”
When we ignore their need, he says, “You did not do it to me.” His ruling?—“Depart from me.” Like the five foolish bridesmaids and the wicked and lazy servant, they were not condemned for doing something bad, but for failing to do something good—turning a blind eye to those in need. It wasn’t what they did but what they didn’t do that doomed them.
We won’t be judged by the knowledge we have acquired, the fame we have achieved, or the fortune we have amassed, but by the help we have given.
We are free to live our life as we choose. But at the end, we must give an account to the One who entrusted us with life.