The Faithful and the Evil
ŇThen Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom [his] lord shall make ruler over his household, to give [them their] portion of meat in due season? Blessed [is] that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lordŐs will, and prepared not [himself], neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many [stripes]. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few [stripes]. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.Ó (Luke 12:41-48)
Poor Peter, it appears that he always had his foot in his mouth. But how many of us, like him, have heard a message, maybe a little biting, and thought to ourselves, if we did not openly ask, ŇWas he talking to me?Ó Peter just blurted it out. He said, ŇLord, were you talking to us or to everybody?Ó The Lord Jesus seems to have just ignored the question; but he really didnŐt. He gave the same instruction again in more detail.
In these verses our Savior again gives us a parable in which he describes two servants, one faithful, the other evil. Notice that both the faithful and the evil are the LordŐs servants. The fact is, all things serve the gracious purposes of God toward his elect (Proverbs 16:4; 21:1; Psalm 76:10). Satan is as much the servant of God, though unwillingly, as Gabriel is willingly. The fallen angels, the very demons of hell, are as fully the servants of God, though they despise him, as are the angels of heaven who adore him. Every human being is the servant of God, too.
Some of us rejoice in that fact. What a privilege is ours to serve the living God! Others despise the thought of GodŐs dominion; but they are nonetheless under GodŐs dominion and serve his purposes (Romans 8:28; 11:36; Ephesians 1:11). Our God rules everywhere, everything, and everyone, totally and absolutely!
Even those evil men who are false prophets and messengers of Satan, deceiving the souls of men with their perverse doctrine, are the servants of our God, sovereignly used by him to accomplish his purpose (1 Corinthians 11:19). — This parable is a word of instruction, inspiration, and warning to those men who stand in the house of God as his servants.
GodŐs Faithful Servants
In verses 42-44 our Lord gives us a description of GodŐs faithful servants. Without question, the instruction of the parable may be applied to every believer in his particular calling in life. We who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ gladly bow to his dominion as our Lord. We are his servants. Our lives are spent in his service. Whatever your particular gifts are, whatever your station in life may be, that is the place of your calling and service in the kingdom of God where you are to use your gifts for the glory of Christ and the good of his people. Be GodŐs faithful servant where you are.
Those men who are gifted of God to be preachers and teachers in his church and are not called and gifted as pastors, are also his servants. They ought to be highly regarded as such. God gifts some local churches with more than one man, sometimes with many men who are clearly gifted of God as preachers and teachers of the Word, though only one is gifted and called to pastor the assembly. Those men are to be heard and treated with the respect that their gifts demand, as the servants of God. But in this passage our Lord is talking about that specific group of men who are trusted of God with the care of his household as pastors of local churches (v. 42). — What a great trust (2 Corinthians 4:7; Ephesians 3:7-8).
You may never be a pastor; but you will, as long as you are in this world, need the services of a faithful pastor. You will be wise to know what to expect from GodŐs servant, how to pray for him, and how best to assist him in the work God has trusted to his hands. And you need to know how to recognize and distinguish between a faithful and an evil servant. You will be wise to ask God the Holy Spirit to teach you the things here taught by the Son of God.
In these verses our Lord Jesus Christ describes his faithful servant, a faithful gospel preacher, a faithful pastor by four things in which he is distinguished from a self-serving false prophet. These four things describe and are characteristic of GodŐs true servants in every age of the church and in every place where gospel churches are found.
1. His Position — GodŐs servant is here described as one Ňwhom his lord hath made ruler over his household.Ó
The church of God is his household, the household of faith, and the household of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is GodŐs family and GodŐs church, not mine, not yours, not this or that denominationŐs, but the LordŐs! It is GodŐs House and GodŐs Temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Ephesians 3:15; 1 Timothy 3:15).
In the family of God there are some fathers, some young men, and some children. There are some who are strong and some who are weak. There are some who are very independent and need little attention, and some who need a good bit of attention. Each one has been placed in his house and family exactly according to the MasterŐs will.
God ordained pastors have been placed by him as rulers over his household. They are not tyrants, dictators, or lords over GodŐs household, but rulers placed over the house to govern it as stewards under Christ (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:4-5; Hebrews 13:7, 17).
Most preachers these days are Junebug preachers. The church, the deacon board, the board of elders, or the denomination has a string tied to his leg and controls everything he does, like a little boy ties a string around a JunebugŐs leg. — Not GodŐs servants. GodŐs servants serve his people; but they are not controlled by them.
Where in the Word of God can you find a prophet, or a preacher who was ruled, governed, or even influenced by the will of the people to whom he was sent to preach? The only preacher like that you can find in the Book of God is a hireling prophet. GodŐs servants are responsible under God to rule his house by his Word, according to his revealed will (2 Timothy 3:16).
A faithful steward rules his MasterŐs house exactly according to his MasterŐs will. As he does, all in the house are expected to honor and obey the steward in charge of the house. And that household is most honorable and most happy that is well-governed, with each member of the family knowing his place, working together with every other member in love for the welfare of the whole family.
How I wish I could make this generation understand that it is the work, the calling, and the responsibility of gospel preachers to feed the church of God with knowledge and understanding, with gospel truth (Jeremiah 3:15; Acts 20:28). It is not the pastorŐs work to be a good socializer, an analyst, a therapist, a counselor, a priest, or a community door knocker. GodŐs servants are preachers! They feed the house of God by preaching the gospel, by opening the bread of life and dispensing it to the family. If a pastor does that, he has to spend his time in his study, not running the roads and chasing ambulances (2 Timothy 2:15).
It is the work of the pastor Ňto give,Ó not to take (Ezekiel 34:7-8). That which is to be given is Ňmeat.Ó It is not our business to enact laws, but to give meat. It is not our business to regulate the lives of men, but to feed their souls. And that with which GodŐs servants feed his children is the sweet meat of the gospel, not the husks of intellectualism, the mists of mysticism, the stones of useless doctrinal speculation, or the poison of heresy. GodŐs servants come with the meat of saving grace in the knowledge of Christ, declaring ruin by the fall, redemption by the blood, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit!
We are to feed the saints of God with Ňmeat in due season.Ó The Word of God must be rightly divided; and each member of the family must be fed with the meat that is suitable for him at the time: — Grace for the Guilty, — Pardon for the Fallen, — Redemption for the Ruined, — Righteousness for the Wicked, — Cleansing for the Defiled, — Reproof for the Wayward, — Comfort for the Troubled, — Strength for the Weak, Christ for All!
GodŐs servants are faithful men (1 Corinthians 4:2). They are stewards of the mysteries of God, of the manifold grace of God, and of the unsearchable riches of Christ (1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Peter 4:10; Ephesians 3:8). John Gill wroteÉ
ŇThey are faithful to the trust reposed in them. They preach the pure gospel of Christ, and the whole of it; conceal no part, nor keep anything of it; seek not to please men, but God; neither seek their own things, their ease, honor, and profit, but the glory of God, the honor of Christ, and the good of souls; and abide by the truths, cause, and interest of the Redeemer at all costs.Ó
A faithful minister of Jesus Christ is one that sincerely seeks his MasterŐs honor, not his own. He preaches Christ crucified in all the counsel of God, not his own thoughts and whims. He follows ChristŐs doctrine and adheres to his ordinances exactly as the Master gave them. And he exercises the work of the ministry, caring for the souls of men, without respect of persons.
As they are faithful, GodŐs servants are wise. They are neither faithful nor wise by nature; but God makes them faithful and wise by grace and by his gifts upon them, making them fit and able ministers of the gospel. They are well-instructed in the things of God, given a clear understanding in the doctrine of the gospel, and wisely exercise their talents and gifts for the glory of God.
They constantly seek to improve their knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures, making the best use of their time in prayer and study, laboring in the Word and doctrine of Christ. They arrange and manage the affairs of their lives to best serve Christ and his people. God graciously gives his servants wisdom to guide and direct his people and to care for them, as a father guides and cares for his family.
The faithful and wise pastor is a man who is doing what God called him to do. — ŇBlessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doingÓ (v. 43). GodŐs servant always has something to do. And he is always found doing what he has been sent and called of God to do. He is not found dreaming, or loitering, or talking, but doing his MasterŐs will and work, feeding his sheep. GodŐs servant is constant in his labor and perseveres in the work God has put into his hands. Someone once asked John Calvin, ŇWhat do you want the Lord to find when he comes?Ó Calvin answered, ŇI want him to find me not idle when he comes?Ó
The Scriptures nowhere teach, or even imply that there shall be degrees of reward in heaven. That is contrary to everything taught in the gospel (Romans 8:17). Certainly, our Lord does not exalt one servant in his kingdom above another. But God does reward faithfulness, both in this world and in the world to come. Those who are faithful over a few things shall be made Lord over many things (Luke 19:17). Frequently, God honors faithful service by giving greater service to perform. GodŐs servants shall find immensely great reward in seeing those for whom they have labored around the throne of Christ in glory (1 Thessalonians 2:19). And GodŐs faithful and wise servants shall themselves inherit all things with Christ in glory (John 17:5, 22). — ŇHe will make him lord over all that he hath.Ó
ŇHow beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.Ó (Isaiah 52:7-8)
ŇI have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence. And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.Ó (Isaiah 62:6-7)
ŇAnd we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their workŐs sake. And be at peace among yourselves.Ó (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)
GodŐs Evil Servants
ŇBut and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lordŐs will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.Ó (vv. 45-48)
Here our Lord Jesus describes those men who are evil servants in the house of God. Here again, our Lord gives us four things which are descriptive of that man who is a false prophet, an evil servant in the house of God. I will not say much about him. But you will see immediately what such a man is.
ŇHis watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. (Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.Ó (Isaiah 56:10-11)
In every age, both the faithful and the evil are sovereignly controlled, ruled, overruled, and absolutely under the dominion of our great God. Used by him to accomplish all his will in all the earth. Blessed be the name of the Lord!
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