Our culture today is preoccupied with the nest egg, the little something stashed away for retirement or in case the regular source of income meets with disaster. All of this slips under my radar, until I go and read something countercultural like Matt 25 with the story of the talents. Remember how this one goes?
The master invests his funds in his servants and leaves them to it. Then he decides to check in with them and find out how his investments are going. All goes well until the master gets to the third servant. The master asks what he has done with his one thousand dollars.
We can feel the suspense building like an incoming storm. We know things will not end well for this servant. The servant fesses up that he has earned nothing at all but tries to compensate by telling the master that the money was carefully protected and is safe and sound.
The master replies and the storm hits: “That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.
“Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this play-it-safe who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.” (Matt 25: 26-30 MSG.)
Boom. That servant gets zero praise for safe-keeping the money; instead the master is so severely displeased that the servant loses the little he was given in the first place. Notice who comes out on top in this story: the one who risked the most for the master’s sake. He got his due rewards plus a gift from the master.
I don’t know about you but this story rocks me to the core. It is a story of all-out risky living for Christ. It is the opposite of hoarding. I often hold back from giving my all to God out of fear or inadequacy, but this story tells me in plain language that God expects a lot more from me. It tells me that fear is not an excuse to safe-keep the gifts God has given me.
Giving our absolute all is scary. We habitually hold back in life just in case things go wrong. We don’t get our hopes up in case we are disappointed. We don’t commit to a relationship because it’s probably too good to be true. We don’t speak up in case we look like a fool. We hold back creatively in case no-one likes what we create.
This is where the metaphor of the nest egg speaks. Maybe you are holding back from God at the moment. Like me, you probably have reasons lined up for not giving more of yourself to God: “I’m too busy.” “I have my kids to look after.” “You don’t know what I’ve been through.”
That’s the beauty of knowing God. He understands our reluctance. He is capable of showing us a way through those things, of healing hurts and of loving the fear out of us. He is calling us to life beyond the cautious, beyond the play-it-safe, beyond the safety net.
If we struggle to really live for Christ, the Holy Spirit can lead us into that liberated living. It is a lifestyle that is not always safe and can even be reckless. It is life without the spiritual nest egg.