Today during my Scripture reading (I’m doing the “Reading the Bible in a Year” and actually sticking to it this time with the help of a great app (BIOY). Check it out for Android of iPhone if you’re interested. I feel it’s the first time I’ve actually made it through more than a few weeks). Today’s reading from the New Testament was on Matthew 25, and it prompted today’s post. Below is the excerpt that I read, followed by some of my thoughts.
The Parable of the Bags of Gold
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘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!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘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!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
When pondering the world’s orphan crisis there really are no easy answers. The task is overwhelming and daunting and often I think, “What can anyone do about this? There are a 147,000,000 (yes that’s in millions) orphans. This problem is simply too big.” To put this in perspective, a couple of years ago there were more orphans adopted from the country of Ethiopia than in any other calendar year; yet the number of orphans within the country increased by tens of thousands during that same period of time. The reality is that adoption alone cannot single-handedly rid the world of orphans, and my point for today is: that’s not really the point.
Occasionally I am directly confronted or indirectly posed with the premise that in-country sustainability is the more appropriate route rather than “taking a child out of their culture and heritage” through adoption. To those of you who think that I would say, “I couldn’t agree more”. Adoption is not the ideal procedure to bringing entire nations, or continents for that matter, toward long-term success in beating the orphan crisis.
With that being said, the above Scripture is not warranting of a debate regarding whether adoption is the perfect solution. We are all in agreement there; it’s not. It’s also not warranting of a debate whether adoption viable and just and good; it is. Over and over in Scripture we are reminded that to whom much is given, much is expected. As Americans, many of us drive two $30,000 vehicles, live in houses worth hundreds or thousands, take vacations costing thousands more, and spend in general without much concern or thought for any of it. We live in a society so affluent that it allows for such a mindset. None of this is to say that we can’t take vacations or live in nice homes, but the Bible is crystal clear in the Parable of the Servants with the Bags of Gold: we all represent the servant given the 10 bags of gold. What are each of us doing to multiply those blessings? Sadly, our society as a whole would be best represented by a servant who received 15 or 20 bags of gold, hid 10 in a field, lost 3 or 4, and spent another 1 or 2 on a couple of purple robes and 12 bottles of Two Buck Chuck. In my own life I find myself constantly battling my own sinful thoughts and selfish desires with regard to my finances.
The second part of the passage focusses on “doing to the least of these”. My contention is that while we wait for the long-term solutions to be solved, there is a huge role that we have the opportunity to play in caring for the broken and the hurting children both domestically and abroad. Although I am relatively young, I consider what my legacy will be quite often. One of my biggest fears in life is nearing the end of it (whenever that may be) and looking back at a big house, nice cars, and fancy vacations…how empty is that? I don’t want to reflect back at a life and family mired in mediocrity, I want something great, something better, something more eternal. As the servant with 10 bags of gold, we have a chance to change the life of a child who would otherwise be on the street without food, and in many cases without clean water and proper medical care.
To turn our backs on that tremendous opportunity because “we can’t afford it” or “there are too many unknowns” or “how will that affect our other children” or “what if they have bad behavior” is flat out lame. Not a single place in the Bible does it say that doing the right thing is always the easiest and most convenient thing. In fact, the Bible often speaks directly to the contrary. I hope that all of us make an effort to train our minds in a manner *inconsistent with American society by focussing on those around us in need rather than what most pleases us each and every moment.
“When it comes to caring for the people of God’s heart, indifference is a sin.” -Tom Davis, Fields of the Fatherless