Approved by God
Whose praise are you living for?
By nature, we desire the approval of others. But, as believers, the approval we should long for above all else is the approval of God Himself. It is worth pausing to consider the awesome truth that, today, what we do can bring pleasure to the God who sustains the universe (1 Thessalonians 4:1), and that one day, He will greet those who have lived all out for Him with the wonderful words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23). Just imagine hearing those words, directed to you, from divine lips!
How, then, are we to live “as one approved” by God—as “a worker who has no need to be ashamed”?
First and foremost, we must determine to keep the faith to the very end. Paul, rounding the bend on his final lap, declared to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Paul’s life was not characterized by short bursts of enthusiasm followed by periods of chronic inertia. He understood that the race of faith was a lifelong marathon to the end.
We don’t want to be known for little spurts every now and then. We especially must avoid being those who only do God’s work when other Christians are watching us. Instead, we want to run hard every day, remembering that God’s eye is always upon us.
As we press on in faith, we can remember that we are promised a “crown of righteousness” that has been “laid up” for us, “which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award” to us (2 Timothy 4:8). And we must remember that we do not run in our own strength. Rather, we are to have every confidence that “he who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). God promises never to leave us or forsake us along the way (Hebrews 13:5). If the finish line looks a long way away, we are called not to focus on the tape but to look to Jesus, keeping our eyes fixed on the “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
Never underestimate the impact of a single life lived to God’s glory. Consider the prospect of standing before your heavenly Father as a worker approved and you will come to the place where you say in humility, “Lord, I want to do my best to know Your approval on my life. ‘I am only one, but I am one. What I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by God’s grace I will do.’”
The Parable of the Talents
14“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants3 and entrusted to them his property. 15To one he gave five talents,4 to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.5 You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The Final Judgment
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,6 you did it to me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
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