Of all the parables of Jesus, these are two of which I find most pungent for the believer:
Our Race To Win or Lose
In a race, you\’re supposed to start at the beginning, run the assigned course and declare a winner. In a foot race, not everyone wins. But in God\’s economy, we\’re not in competition with others, but ourselves.
Therefore, it\’s possible to run the race but fail to receive a reward. Because although we may have started well, we can get off course by choosing our own way or creating our own path instead of following the course designed for us.
We can run until we collapse, but unless we begin at a proper starting line and run the course laid out by the Course Master, we will end up in the woods or on some deserted road: exhausted, dehydrated and perhaps close to death, hoping someone will help us find our way back to where we should be.
Paul admonished the Galatians to get back into the race: \”you were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?\” (Gal 5:7). This reflects Pauls\’ admonition to the Corinthians when he said, \”do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win\” (1 Cor 9:24). John had a similar admonition when he said, \”watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward\” (2 John 1:8).
The Judgment Seat of Christ
- Receive a full reward
- Receive a partial reward
- Receive no reward
- Suffer loss
- For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).
- For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Cor 3:11-15).
- \”But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. \”For by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.\” (Matt 12:36-37)
- \”He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day (John 12:48)
The point then is to live – to run your race – in such a way that you receive a reward.
- Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)
I Serve because I Love!
Secondly, there are things we are all called to do – preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead, etc. (see: Matthew, Mark). These are general callings or commissions that apply to all of Gods\’ children. But there are also things that apply specifically to a given person, e.g., Jeremiah: \”\’for I know the plans (thoughts, purpose, intentions) that I have for you,\’ declares the LORD, \’plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope\” (Jer 29:11). It is this purpose to which we are called. And as we consider what Paul said to the Ephesians, we see the same concept being echoed:
- For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Eph 2:8-10)
- If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not, for this reason, any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not, for this reason, any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. (1 Cor 12:15-26)
What is My Calling?
- And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” (Revelation 21:3-5)
The point, then is this: everyone is on a level playing field: whether you receive 5 talents or 1, you\’ve received that which you\’re capable of reproducing. Everyone starts off well, everyone has been given a task. But according to scripture, there\’s an end-game scenario where some of us can suffer loss, where some of us can have what was given to us taken away, and given to others.
Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to find your calling and run your race well.