Come and share your Master’s happiness

Jesus tells a parable of a servant who is “good and faithful”, he stewards the gifts of his Master well – producing multiplied value from the initial gifts.

At the end the servant is commended!

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:21).

There is much to like about this story. But what struck me this morning, is the invitation to share in the Master’s happiness.

  1. God’s happiness is not an intangible, aloof, disconnected emotion. Sometimes we assume that ‘holy people’ or even ‘intelligent’, ‘stoic’ and ‘upper class’ people have a humour and delight for things that would go over our heads. But in this verse Jesus reminds us that the happiness of God is something we can ‘share in’.
  2. God is so happy when we steward His gifts well.
  3. The task of stewarding is separate from the task of sharing God’s happiness. I think this is important. We can work and work and work, strive and strive and strive, to be good stewards. And totally, completely and utterly miss out on the happiness God wants us to share in. Yes, stewarding well opens the door to the happiness. But no, stewarding well does not automatically result in joy.

We see this last point played all over the western world’s addiction with work. Men and women across the country, working to steward their jobs well, working to steward their privilege well. But not accepting the invitation to share in the happiness of God.

I think of Martha who worked and worked, to steward her house and hospitality, but didn’t enjoy Jesus. I think of the elder brother, who ‘slaved in the fields all day’, but never enjoyed the feasts of the Father. I think of the church in Galatia who were so focused on striving, that Paul had to remind them that the fruit of the spirit is Joy.

And then I think of Jesus….who, it says, ‘for the joy set before Him, endured the cross…scorned it’s shame…and sat down with the Father’ (Hebrews 12:2).

Yes it is important that we ‘strenuously contend with all the energy that Christ so powerfully works with in us’ (Col 1:29), that we ‘continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling’ (Phil 2:12), that we ‘make the most of every opportunity’ (Eph 5:16)….but yes, it is also important we sing the words of Psalm 84:

How lovely is Your dwelling place, oh Lord God Almighty. My soul thirsts and even feints for You… Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you!

Today, come and share in the Master’s happiness

Genesis 3:1-24 Part 5: In Wrath Remember Mercy

On Monday we looked at the punishment given to man following his crime against God. In today’s post we will examine the other elements of the curse, and how even in the midst of God’s wrath we can see and celebrate His Mercy.

The Promise

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
And between your offspring and hers;
He will crush your head
And you will strike His heel

After God has cursed the snake, He goes on to issue a promise. Some commentators called this the proto evangelium as in, the first proclamation of the Gospel. For it tells us about Jesus:

  1. His Incarnation – this promise tells us He will descend from Eve,
  2. His Suffering – this promise tells us He will be wounded in the process
  3. His Victory – over evil and sin, He will crush the serpent!

The Woman

In light of the curse given to the snake we can see the God’s mercy in the midst of wrath, embedded in the sentence given to the woman:

I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
With painful labour you will give birth to children

Yes, this is a severe punishment and consequence to Eve’s sin. And yet, it is not without mercy. For firstly, she will bear children. This means that the promise above (in verse 15) will continue. God will remain faithful even when we are faithless – He will fulfill His purposes.

Secondly, after the pain of childbirth there will be joy! (John 16:21)

The Clothes

In addition to the mercy shown through God’s words. We also see further mercy, in God’s provision of clothes for the couple.

As an history graduate, God’s provision of clothes is very significant. In Andrews Marrs book, History of the World, he pinpoints the invention of the needle (for the purposes of making clothes) as one of the defining inventions that set man apart from other species. Obviously, this passage does not say that God invented the needle. However, the blessing of clothes provides protection, warmth and even comfort to the humans.

The Shame

Nevertheless, it is undeniable, that God has rebuked us. He has stripped us of the garden, of our pathetic leaf outfit, moved us away from His presence and the tree of life.

And yet, in this shame there is grace. God has shamed us that we might seek Him (Psalm 83:16). As Augustine said: He has rubbed salt on our lips that we might thirst for Him.

We see this in the story of the prodigal son, who realises how good it was in his Father’s house, when he is reduced to pig food!

What now?

What difference does this make to our faith? What difference does God’s insistence on Mercy, towards Adam and Eve, make to our walk with God today?

  1. We worship a God who is the same, yesterday, today and forever. People often assume the God of the Old Testament is not merciful. Yet this story tells us clearly it is there.
  2. God’s plan for rescuing us, is not a fad, it is not a fickle ambition. Rather it has been planned from the beginning.
  3. We serve a God who is able to turn our worst failings, into means to accomplish His glory and our good (Gen 50:20, Rom 8:28).