When we set a goal in our lives, we normally have some termination point. For example, if I needed to save five hundred dollars for some new tires I might decide to save fifty dollars a month for ten months. If I decided I wanted to lose twenty pounds, I might set a goal of losing two pounds a week for ten weeks. We put our mind to the task at hand because we know that it is only for a few weeks or months that we have to sacrifice the fifty dollars or the fifty calories.
When the Bible commands us to continue it does not give us a known termination point. We are to be faithful until the Lord’s return. Since we do not have advance notice of the rapture (“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” Mark 13:32), it is very easy to become weary in well doing.
In Luke chapter nineteen, our Lord shares a parable about a certain nobleman who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and return (v. 12). This parable was easily understood because Judea at the time of Christ was subject to the Romans having been conquered by Pompey about sixty years prior to Christ. Judea however was governed by the Jews who were allowed to do so by the Romans. It was required that a prince or king go to Rome and receive a recognition of that right from the Roman emperor. As Jesus spoke this parable, Archelaus, the son of Herod the Great, had gone to Rome to obtain confirmation of the title left to him by his father, and succeeded in obtaining it.
The reason Jesus told this parable was to clear up some confusion about Himself.
And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.—Luke 19:11
Jesus, as the promised Messiah, was not ready to set up His earthly kingdom just yet—He must first die, be buried, rise again, and return to His Father in Heaven. Then at a set time by the Father, He would return to rule and reign among men.
As this nobleman in Luke nineteen gets ready to depart for the far country, he calls his servants and delivers unto them pounds. A pound was a large sum of money in those days—approximately three years of wages according to some scholars. Thus, they were entrusted with a large gift. The Lord then commands them to “Occupy till I come” in verse thirteen. The word occupy means to invest with the intent of increase. They were not simply to keep the pound safe. Later it is revealed in verse twenty that one of these servants kept his pound in a napkin (a safe place) until his lord returned. He was rebuked severely and lost the pound and the reward. Those servants who invested their pounds were commended and given more opportunity.
Romans 12:6 teaches us that we as Christians have been entrusted with gifts to be used for the Lord. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace given unto us.” We too are to “occupy.” We are to invest our time, talents, treasures, and opportunities for the Lord so that God’s work is advanced and can multiply. How long must we occupy? Should we set a termination date for our service? Would it be proper to say, I’m going to read my Bible every day for a month. Or, I’m going to tithe and trust God in my stewardship until I get out of debt? No! God’s command is to occupy—until He returns.
John admonishes us in 2 John 8, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.” Too many Christians start out well in the journey but for one reason or another become disenchanted, discouraged, or detoured in their service. John reminds us that the only way to receive a full reward when we meet the Lord is to continue all the way to the end. The words of an old hymn come to mind: “When Jesus comes to reward His servants; Whether it be noon or night; Faithful to him will He find us watching, With our lamps all trimmed and bright? If at the dawn of the early morning, He shall call us one by one; When to the Lord we restore our talents, will He say to thee, ‘Well done’?”
We may not be physically able to serve in the same ways and ministries throughout our entire lives, but we must never have the attitude of retirement from the Lord’s work. As long as God leaves us here, He has a plan to use us in some way for His glory. If we are not careful, we will succumb to the notion that it is too hard in 2016 to be faithful. Or, I’ve done my part—let someone else get involved. The devil would like us to believe that our labor is in vain and it won’t matter if we take our hand off of the plow.
What a tragedy it would be to stop serving a day or a week or even a year before the Lord’s return. When He comes back, let’s determine we are going to be in the battle. Take the word quit out of your vocabulary and replace it with the word continue!