‘Disobedience’ is always in the running to win the “Most Unpopular Christian Word” award. It slightly beats out ‘Tithing’ and ‘Courtship’ but is still currently lagging behind ‘Holiness’ and ‘Purity’.
Nobody wants to be accused of being disobedient to God. No right-minded person wants to live in a way that incurs God’s judgment. To the best of our ability, we all try to act aligned with God’s will and desires. In other words, we strive for obedience. We try our best not to lie, steal, slander, lust, gossip, covet, or commit any other evil act. In not doing these things (among many others), we assume we are being obedient.
But what if disobedience isn’t only seen in abstaining from evil things? Many of us think of disobedience only in terms of the bad things we do. What if disobedience also encompasses the good things we don’t do?
Jesus told a story in Matthew 25 about a rich boss who left behind large sums of money for his servants to invest. He gave 5 talents to one servant (a talent was about 20 years worth of salary); to another, 2 talents; and to another, 1 talent.
The servant with 5 talents invested the money and doubled it. The servant with 2 talents, likewise, invested and doubled his money. The third servant, who had 1 talent, sat on it. He buried the money, guaranteeing he wouldn’t lose it, because of his fear of the rich boss.
The boss eventually returned to see how his servants had done with his investments. He praised the first two, but said this to the servant who buried his money:
“You wicked and slothful servant…he then cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt 25:26,30)
Here’s what’s striking about the rich boss’ response. The servant wasn’t called wicked, slothful, and worthless because he wasted the money in strip clubs, on Lamborghinis, or buying drugs. His disobedience wasn’t seen in obvious acts of evil. His disobedience was seen in not faithfully handling what he had been entrusted with.
I don’t see a ton of Christians walking in disobedience by actively participating in evil acts. Many of us, however, can be accused of disobedience because we’re sitting on what we’ve been entrusted to invest.
Some of you have been entrusted with incredible business skills. You have an ability to make lots and lots of money. And yet, you spend almost all of it on yourself while churches and missionaries scrounge to keep a ministry afloat.
Some of you have been entrusted with an ability to make complete strangers feel loved and welcomed. And yet, you bypass opportunities to help non-Christians feel loved and welcomed in church.
Some of you are gifted entrepreneurs who love newness and adventure. And yet, you’re content just to sit in a church service without ever catalyzing a new ministry in a desperate place.
Some of you feel God stirring something in you… calling you to do something more. And yet, you suppress it in favor of a path that doesn’t involve risk.
That’s the detail that is often missed in the Parable of the Talents: investment always involves risk. In fact, that’s why the disobedient servant didn’t invest the money! He didn’t want to risk losing his boss’ cash.
But when it’s God’s investment, not ours, we have nothing to worry about. Certainly, we must be wise and seek Godly counsel, but we can also live with a crazy amount of faith because we’re playing with house money.
At the end of the day, God isn’t all that concerned with your fruitfulness…He’s concerned with your faithfulness. He wants you to feel emboldened to use the gifts He’s given you for the Kingdom. To not do that, to play it safe, to take the comfortable path is wicked, slothful, and worthless.
See, disobedience doesn’t only look evil.