Affections Affect Performance

Matthew 25:19 “After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.”

In Matthew 25:14-30 we have a parable concerning talents committed to three servants in the absence of the master. After distributing his wealth among his servants, the master takes a journey into a far country. The servants were not given a specific time for the master will return; only that they are to faithfully carry out the master’s business in his absence. After an unspecified time; the master returns from his journey. In conjunction with the sovereign’s return, there is the servant’s reckoning; “After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.” The word “reckoneth” means a computation or to compute an account of one’s performance. This parable quickly reminds us of the sobering truth that we too await a day of reckoning upon our Lord’s return. Jesus tells us that we will not only give an account of our works, but we will give an account of our words; “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). The writer of Hebrews reminds us that our Lord is competent and completely thorough in the reckoning process; “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).

Aware of the fact that our Lord’s return is eminent and the laborers’ reckoning is extensive; should we not prepare ourselves for that day? Within the parable there are several principles that will aid us in preparing for that day. I want to take a moment to magnify one; “Affections Affects Performance!”

The principle of “Affections Affect Performance” is magnified in the works and words of the servant to whom one talent was dispensed. If you will take the time to carefully read verses24-26, you discover that the servant actions are dictated by attitude. The servants response to doing his duty was a direct result of the servant relationship to the master. The servant took the talent from the hand of the master and straight way dug a hole and buried it; not because of the amount, but because of his affections! The servant did not love his master and this fact was manifested in the servant’s language and his labor.

Notice the cold and callus language the servant uses to describe his master; “Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:And I was afraid” (vs.24-25). The servant perceived his master as being callus in at least three areas! The master was callus in the area fellowship; “thou art an hard man.” The word “hard” means tough, harsh, sever, or fierce, and it comes from a word meaning to parch. The servant perceived his master as one that unfit for the intimacies of fellowship. The master was callus in the area of finances, “reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed.”  The servant perceived the master as one whose interests revolved around money and not men! The master was callus in the area of feelings, “And I was afraid.” The word “afraid” means to be frightened, to be alarmed or to be sore afraid. The servant perceived the master as being unlovable.

Notice the casual manner with which the servant treated the master’s wealth and fulfilled his responsibility; “he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money” (vs.18). Listen to the descriptive terms that the master uses to describe the activities of this servant; “Thou wicked and slothful servant” (vs.26). The word “wicked” is an interesting word. It means hurtful, evil in effect and influence. The idea is that this man’s actions were harmful to the master, to himself, and all the other servants. The word “slothful” means tardy, indolent or lazy. The master is saying that because this servant was lazy and failed to fulfill his responsibilities, he hurt the sovereign, harmed self, and hampered the other servants! This was not the kind of performance that the master was looking for in his servant.

The question before us is: “Why did this servant yield such a poor performance in the area of stewardship?” The simple truth is “His Affections Affected His Performance!” The servant’s language and labor reveal an absence of love for the master. Speaking to one of His disciples, Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words” (John 14:23). Love manifests itself in obedience and dedication to the will of the master! Writing to the church at Ephesus, they are commanded to “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works” (Revelation 2:5). Why had this church ceased in it performance of “the first works?” The answer is a simple one; “thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4). When your loves right, our work is right!

The reason that we have such a poor performance in the area of stewardship is a simple one; we just don’t love God like we ought to, for “Affections Affect Performance!”