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Fear and one talent
The Bible describes 'fear' in two different ways: "Fear God" and "Do not fear." It is not because God is the object of fear that the Bible tells us to fear Him, but because He is our Creator and Savior. On the other hand, the Bible tells us not to fear. This implies that we don't have to fear anything or anyone other than God.
Jesus told the parable of the talents. In that parable, the one who had received one talent was afraid and hid the talent in the ground. God told us not to have such fear. Now, let's think of the confident faith that pleases God, through the parable of the talents in the Bible.
Life in fear
Man experiences various types of fear in life. Most people in the world tend to fear what they don't know or understand.
Those with mysophobia fear germs. They even avoid hanging on to straps when they ride public transportation such as buses. They hold the straps after wiping them clean with their handkerchiefs.
The fear of failure causes people to hesitate. Besides, they live in the fear of being criticized by others, the fear of being changed, the fear of success, the fear of responsibility, the fear of finishing, the fear of being rejected, the fear of making a wrong decision, and so on.
God has entrusted us with the mission of watchmen-the mission of preaching the gospel in the last days. And He tells us to fear nothing. God has commanded us to warn people around the world. With fear, we cannot boldly preach God's commands and His new name, nor can we flatly reject idolatry.
Restrained by the fear of failure
If one is restrained by the fear of failure, he can't push himself forward and do nothing. The same thing happens to animals.
A man happened to see something strange at a circus. After the performance, he saw elephants being tied: The mother elephant was tied to a small stake with a thin rope, while the baby elephant to a strong stake with a thick rope tightly.
He wondered and asked their trainer why he tied the baby elephant more tightly than the mother elephant. Then the tamer said, "The baby elephant is not fully trained and tries to pull the stake out of the ground to which it is tied and run free. That is why I ties it to a heavy stake with a thick rope. However, the mother elephant remembers that in her babyhood she tried repeatedly to get away but couldn't.
So the mother elephant doesn't even try to escape once she notices that she is chained. That's why I tie the baby elephant to a huge stake, while tying the mother elephant to a little stake." The fear of failure stopped the elephant from running free.
Some college students experimented with a fish called Barracuda. They filled a tank with water and put a sheet of glass in the middle of the tank, then put the fish and a live bait into the tank, separating them from each other. At first the fish actively chased the bait. However, as it bumped repeatedly against the glass, it quit chasing the bait soon. Even after removing the glass plate from the tank, the fish didn't try. It didn't even try to attack the bait getting close to it.
When we are dominated by the fear of failure, we cannot carry out our gospel ministry in the best possible way. Christ, before He ascended up to heaven, told us to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. However, if we see only our failures, though circumstances permit, we come to think that we will fail and quit preaching the gospel.
'I eagerly chased the bait but just bumped against something. I could not move forward any more.' Let's remove all such thoughts from our hearts. If we have only negative memories of past failures and do not try again today, we are not different from the mother elephant and the barracuda, are we?
We may have failed in the past. However, circumstances have changed today. People's hearts are more open and receptive to hear the gospel, and God has given us so much strength.
A heart God has given us
God has given us a great mission. As ministers of the new covenant, we are to carry out our mission faithfully. However, we can't obey the will of God if we have the fear of failure in our hearts. God has not given us a spirit of fear.
2 Tim 1:6-9 ... For God did not give us a spirit of timidity [fear, KJV], but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, ...
The spirit of fear does not come from God. We don't need to fear anything. 'What if I am criticized by that person when I preach God's word to him?''What if I fail to confidently deliver this testimony?' The fear of failure and the fear of being criticized hinder us from blowing the gospel trumpet loudly. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love and courage.
In the process of trying to bear fruit through the preaching of the gospel, we may fail or make an error. However, as long as our failure or mistake is not intentional, God will surely help us achieve even more. We, as spiritual harvesters and watchmen, are only to follow God's great command by carrying out the mission of the gospel.
Ro 8:12-17 ... because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God ...
The Bible teaches us that since we have received the Spirit of sonship, we have the right to call God "Abba, Father." God Almighty is our Father and Mother. They are willing to help us, Their own children. They always help us do our mission. We must not forget that. We must be confident of God's help.
The Spirit Himself testifies that we are God's children and heirs worthy to receive the heavenly inheritance. Nevertheless, do we not still fear and hesitate like those who have received the spirit of bondage? We no longer live, but Christ lives in us (Gal 2:20). We must remove all fear from our hearts, so that we can completely be filled with the Holy Spirit and lead all peoples of the world to salvation by preaching the gospel to them.
Fear and one talent
Let's consider the story of the foolish servant who was afraid and hid his master's talent in the ground and brought the one talent back to his master when he returned.
Mt 25:14-30 "... The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ... The man with the two talents also came. ... 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!' Then the man who had received the one talent came.
'Master,' he said, 'I know that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! ... And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"
In the above parable, the man with one talent was afraid. That was why he just kept the one talent. In his fear he did nothing with his one talent. If he had only preached, he would have gained ten times or one hundred times what had been given to him. 'What if that person does not listen to me?' In that fear of failure the foolish servant laid aside the one talent and gained nothing.
If we remove our fear, we can multiply one talent into two and turn the two talents into five and the five talents into ten. The more we use our God-given talents, the more they multiply. If the man with the one talent had used it in business, he must have multiplied it. However, he did nothing with his talent and made no profit. Consequently he was condemned by his master as being wicked and lazy.
As a seed is planted, it produces a crop-several tens of times or one hundred times what is sown. Likewise, the seed of God's word brings forth much fruit if it is sown on good soil. The seed on infertile soil may fail to bear fruit. However, it is not really failure at all. We are to be obedient to God's instructions, whether we plant or water. It is God who causes the seed to grow. As God's children, we should faithfully carry out our mission, looking forward to a good result that God brings about.
120,000 people repented at the preaching of Jonah
With the heart of failure, we always remain a 1-talent servant. However, if we have a heart full of love, joy and peace just as God told us, our talents become multiplied as we use them in the work of preaching the gospel. Remembering this, let's remove all fear from our hearts and boldly preach the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Jnh 1:1-17 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. ... he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. ... Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. ... But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.
God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach His word. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria that attacked Israel; it had blasphemed God and oppressed His people. Jonah was afraid to preach God's word in Nineveh. In fear of his life, Jonah sought to flee by ship to a remote country.
However, God turned Jonah with His supernatural power. As Jonah was rescued from the belly of the fish, God told him a second time to deliver His message. Then Jonah headed toward Nineveh.
Jnh 3:1-10 ... On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, ... Then he [the king of Nineveh] issued a proclamation in Nineveh: "By the decree of the king and his nobles: ... Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish." When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
Jonah, who had experienced God's mighty power, went to the enemy's capital and shouted out God's warning there. Then the Ninevites turned from their evil ways and believed God; they fasted and repented. God's thoughts were not like man's thoughts. Jonah thought that the Ninevites were a wicked people and none of them would listen to God's message. His problem was the fear of failure.
As the Ninevites repented, God did not carry out the original intention to punish them. Then Jonah got into trouble; he knew people would ridicule him and call him a false prophet, for he proclaimed that Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days. However, God's original intention was to save the 120,000 people of Nineveh.
When Jonah overcame his fear and preached God's word, over 120,000 people repented and came to God. What would have happened to them if Jonah had continued his attempt to flee from his mission? These things occurred as examples for us.
God told us, "Do not fear, for I am with you" (Is 41:10). We should not understand this word just literally but put it into practice. When we carry out God's last great work without any fear, we will multiply our talents many times over, as God's faithful children.
Is 60:1-3 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn."
If we do not shine God's light, how can nations come to the brightness of His dawn? Since we have shined the light of the gospel to them, many nations have come to the light of God.
Now, wherever the seed of the gospel is sown, it produces fruit. We've been hearing the good news from overseas that the gospel seeds sown during this outreach are bearing abundant fruit. It reflects us back to ourselves; it was because we didn't do that we produced no fruit. Once we carry out the mission of the gospel, we can surely bear fruit.
Let's completely remove all fear from our hearts-the fear of making mistake, the fear of failure, etc. There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out fear (1 Jn 4:18). If we try to save each soul with a heart of love given by God, we will multiply our talents by bearing the abundant fruits of the gospel. Brothers and sisters in Zion, let's all be freed from fear and confidently carry out the mission of the gospel God has entrusted to us, so that we may enjoy heavenly blessings forever.