Fear–Impediment to Generosity*
“I was afraid” (Matt. 25:25, first part)
Fear is part of our existence, and it does not take into account age or social standing. It entered into this world along with sin, and we will get rid of it only when sin is eradicated. There are so many ways in which fear manifests itself: fear of loneliness, failure, rejection, illness; and in this long list is also included the fear of losing by being generous.
Fear can dominate our imagination, paralyze our spirituality, and rob us of the joy of a full life.
Our challenge is to discover our fears and find the answer to how to overcome them in God’s Word.
The most powerful people in the Bible have faced fear. Abraham is one of them. God assures him by encouraging him: “Abraham, do not be afraid” (Gen 15:1).
God is the answer to all our fears, that is why the expression “Do not be afraid” is repeated 300 times in the Bible. Of course, fear is often related to the future, but God assures us that we can trust His kindness, love, and faithfulness.
A wrong image about God—the source of our fears
In His last sermon, in Matthew 25, Jesus Christ speaks of the signs of His return but also about how to be prepared for this event. It is worth studying these parables from the perspective of stewardship to understand the important role this concept plays in answering the most important question: How can we be ready?
We stop, however, at the parable of the talents. Our interest is held by wondering what is behind the action of the first two slaves, whom Jesus calls “good and faithful” (vss. 21, 23), and the third slave, whom Jesus describes as “wicked and slothful” (vs. 26).
The wrong image the “wicked” slave had about his master caused fear. And fear paralyzes; it resulted in this man doing nothing. The most important thing is to have a correct image of God, His character and His generosity.
Fear is nothing but the root of selfishness. Not only greed blocks generosity but also fear. Fear of losing, or having less, is an obstacle to giving, whether it is relational, emotional, or even material.
God is the answer to all our fears. The first two slaves shared such a perspective. The master is good and loving, so we want to work to expand His wealth.
A punishment too harsh?
Some may consider the punishment of “casting into the outer darkness” (see vs. 30) as too harsh and incompatible with the image of a God full of love. The unfaithful servant did not steal the talent; he just hid it and returned it to the master. Why should he be punished so harshly?
Jesus uses familiar images in His parables that convey the profound truths about God and His plans. That is why we must understand that Jesus did not intend to give us a lesson on financial investment here. Instead, He speaks of His kingdom, which he founded on His sacrifice at Golgotha. The talents are the opportunities that God provides for us, according to the capabilities with which He has endowed us to contribute to the expansion of His kingdom.
Jesus’ blood was spilled at Golgotha, and that makes us responsible. The fearful are excluding themselves from His kingdom by their attitude, according to what John has written in the last book of the Bible (see Rev. 21:8).
Ioan Campian Tatar
EUD Stewardship Director
*This article was previously published in the EUD monthly newsletter. You can find it by clicking HERE.