God is not a taskmaster; He is a place of rest for a weary soul.
There’s a story in Scripture in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25, verses 14 through 30 about three servants who invested bags of gold on behalf of a master who left them in charge of some of his wealth. The first servant was given five bags of gold and returned ten to the master. The second was given two bags and returned four to the master. The last servant was given one bag of gold and went and buried it in the ground and upon the master’s return simply gave the bag back. Here was what the servant said:
“Master, I knew that you were 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 gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.”
The master was not happy. The story did not end well for this servant.
There is much that can be said about this parable and much that has been said about it. Go and read it for yourself and see what insights you might glean from this interesting and challenging story. Here is one insight to get you started.
A well-known theologian named, A. W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” When Jesus was sharing this parable with His disciples, He was using it to help them understand God and our relationship with Him more clearly. We know that the master in this story is representative of God, and we are the servants.
In other words, we know what came into the servant’s mind when he thought about his master, because he said it, “…you were a hard man…so I was afraid…”. That simple, inaccurate thought about God drove him to fear. His fear led him to bury the gold and ultimately disappoint the master. In a twist of irony, the master treated the servant according to the way the servant saw him. This is an uncomfortable thought.
Is God to be feared? Of course. A few weeks ago, we saw how Jesus cast a legion of demons out of a man who was living among tombs. The demons were afraid of Jesus. The people who witnessed the event and its results were afraid of Jesus; seemingly more afraid of Jesus than they were of a dangerous, demon-possessed man living in the graveyard.
At another time, Jesus woke up during a storm and rebuked the wind and the waves and the disciples were afraid asking themselves, “Who is this that the wind and waves obey him?” There is much to fear when we think about God. But that fear should not cause us to run from Him or shy away from the tasks He might place in our hands. The Bible suggests the exact opposite:
Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Similarly, Proverbs 10:27 says, “The fear of the Lord prolongs days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.” And again, Proverbs 14:26 says, “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and His children shall have a place of refuge.” This brings us to our verse for this school year, Proverbs 30:5, “Every word of God is flawless, He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”
There are undoubtedly things in our lives that will cause us to quail and want to run. There are challenges we’ll face where we won’t have answers; that’s scary. In these situations where else will you run? Alcohol, food, sex, drugs, work, relationships, anxiety, stress, religion, vacations, stuff? These things are blessings when placed in their appropriate contexts, and they can serve to help us through our lives, but they make for terrible gods. God, our master, however, is truly powerful. He can rescue us in or from our greatest threats and invites us to turn to Him amid our greatest fears. In other words, walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but fear no evil, God is with you!
This is what it looks like to fear God. To run to Him not from Him. Take refuge in God, He is our shield.