We come today to the third servant in Jesus’ story. The two other servants, having received bags of silver according to the master’s assessment of their capacity, had put the money to work, doubling their master’s investment. They had given their report to the master with great joy, and he had received it with enthusiastic praise and given them both promotions

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The third servant now made his report to the master. Bringing in the single bag of money he had been given before the master left on his journey, the servant began. “I knew you  were a hard man, Master; you harvest crops you did not plant, and gather produce you did not cultivate. So, because I was afraid of losing your money, I buried it in the ground. Here it is, all of it.”

“You are both wicked and lazy!” replied the master. “If you knew that I ‘harvest crops I did not plant’, why did you not at least put my money into the bank? There, at least, I would have gotten some interest on it.”

And, turning to his servants, he ordered them to take away the bag of silver and give it to the servant who now had ten bags. “Those who use well what they have been given will be given more until they have great abundance,” he said. “But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. And throw out this useless servant into the darkness. There will indeed be bitter regrets and weeping.”

What strikes me most about this story is that our perceptions of God dictate our actions, with either wonderful or terrifying results. Remember that, at the beginning of the story, he had  distributed his money based on the capacity of each servant; that is, even the servant who was given only one bag of silver had the capacity to handle that money and win the approval of his master.

Instead, he chose fear. His terror of losing what he had been given was re-enforced by his perception of his master–“He is a hard man!” Every day, as his fellow servants enthusiastically increased the money given into their care, he retreated again into his ‘safe zone’– “at least, I won’t lose the master’s money.”

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus goes to great lengths to reveal His Father to us. His own deeds, He said, were the deeds of His Father; His words were His Father’s words. He repeatedly spoke of His Father’s love for His disciples, His good pleasure to give His “little flock” the Kingdom of Heaven.

“This is eternal life,” Jesus prayed to His Father, “That they might know Thee, the Only True God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou has sent.”

The great question today is, “Are we getting to know the the Only True God, the One Jesus came to reveal?  Or are we listening to another voice– one that says ‘He’s a hard God. He demands more than He gives.”  For our perception of God will dictate how we respond to Him, and to His Love.

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