Harsh Words

Harsh Words

26 November 2019

Harsh Words
Jim Stephens

Reading: Matthew 23-25

26 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? 28 “ ‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb.” (Matthew 25:26, 28 MSG)

Some of the harshest words Jesus spoke were aimed at a servant who lived an overly-cautious, “play-it-safe” life.

I’ve heard this story of the three servants interpreted in several ways: “Work hard and don’t be lazy,” “Make the most of your talents,” “Be a wise investor.” This morning as I read it again, the message to me is very clear, “Don’t fall into the trap of living over-cautiously and becoming complacent and apathetic.”

I’ve noticed that as I get older I find cautious living more appealing.
Jean and I have lived a risk-taking life together for 56 years – business, Vietnam, Jesus-people ministry, pioneering a church, moving overseas as missionaries with our teenage daughters, developing the Bible Training Centres in Jamaica and the UK, training pastors in Africa with Foundation for Christian Service, serving on the team at Westside Church, caring for pastors and leaders, mentoring leaders and serving other churches in Central Oregon.

But even with the necessary slowing down that is appropriate to the age and stage of life I’m in at age 76, I still wake up each morning thinking that there’s still something significant to be done and I still approach each old-year-end and new-year-beginning asking my Father and Master, “What’s next?!”

How about you? In my opinion, whatever our age or stage in life, it’s not time for living over-cautiously. I’m convinced The Master is still looking for servants who will go out on a limb! Maybe it’s time for a second childhood, a season of childlike faith!


Father, I determine not to succumb to the pull of gravity – the tendency to exchange go-out-on-a-limb faith for living over-cautiously. Please help me not to become an overly-cautious “play-it-safe” person who won’t go out on a limb for you. I need your help more than ever because it seems like gravity is stronger these days. Jesus, if it’s really you, call me to come to you by walking on the water! Amen.

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