Matthew 25:21 (ESV) “His 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.’”
Do you have enough pearly white toilet paper? How about meat? How about haircare/coloring products? Tylenol? Bread? Many of these items have, at one point or another, been difficult to find during COVID-19. A friend of mine, who happens to sell a lot of beef, recently said to me, “I have to ask myself if I’ve been distracted selling beef rather than Jesus. Have I bought enough Jesus? You must have extra of something in order to sell it. You are at your best as a salesperson when you believe in value of what you are selling yourself. You have to think the return is worth the time invested.” As he shared this, I couldn’t help but think of the investment that Jesus has made in us.
The Investment Jesus Made
In Acts 20, Paul is speaking to the elders at Ephesus and he says, “28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained (purchased) with his own blood.” The blood of Jesus represents a total investment. Jesus gave himself for us, holding nothing back, body and blood. What is amazing about this investment is that he made it while we were still at enmity with him. Would you give your life for someone who hated or despised you? This is Jesus’ testimony: total investment set against total abhorrence.
Not only did he give his life for our salvation, but then he provided us with tools or talents to use for the building of his Kingdom, specifically within the context of the Church. We all know the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Some took the money and doubled it, others added just a little, but some did nothing. They buried the investment, making nothing of the gift, thinking they would be justified, only to find judgment; the gift is taken away, the worthless servant is cast into the outer darkness.
The servant that did nothing with Jesus’ investment never truly possessed the gift in the first place. Those who value a gift that they have been given make much of the gift. Jesus gave us the greatest gift of all when he made the investment that gave us the opportunity to be made right with God. What have we done with that gift?
The Return on Investment is Love
Before we reach for works, ability, and effort, we need to be careful to remember the words of those who came to Jesus saying, ‘Many mighty works we did in your name…’ Jesus replied, ‘Away from me, I never knew you.’ We cannot get caught up on the works. The principle of the parable is not a lesson about works, but more so it is a lesson about growth. The question is not, how much do we need to do? The question is, how does the gift that was invested grow? The answer is given over and over and over again throughout the New Testament. It is an answer that Jesus gives, and one that Peter, Paul, John, James, and others unpack in their letters to the early churches.
The lesson of the New Testament is that a gift that is sown in love is grown in love. We grow the investment that Jesus has made by growing in a greater love for God and a greater love for each other. This is how disciples are made, this is how the gift is multiplied. The currency of Jesus’ kingdom is the currency of love. “Faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.” “Love covers a multitude of sins.” “The fruit of the Spirit is love…” “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love…” “Love the Lord your God…love your neighbor….” “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Do the behaviors and patterns of our lives reflect a growing love? Is that love overflowing from the attitudes of our hearts and examples of our lives in an abundant way that is influencing those Jesus directs into our pathways? Is the return on our investment really worth the time and energy it takes? Jesus’ example was a resounding, “yes!” The example of Jesus should be enough motivation for us to love others in the same manner that we have been loved.
So, when my friend asked the question, ‘have I bought enough Jesus?’ I knew what he was asking. When people look at the patterns of my life, can they see what I believe? Is my life a testimony of growing love? Are my beliefs informing my behaviors? Are my words and actions demonstrating my gratitude in the investment that Jesus made in me? Well, are they?