Afraid to Fail
Rachel Olsen

"To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance." Matthew 25:29a (NLT)

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells a story of a master who divided his money (unequally) into the care of three servants while he went on a trip. "The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master's money" (Matthew 25:16-18, NLT). When the master returned, he praised and rewarded the two servants who had multiplied his money. Jesus continues the story:

"Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, 'Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn't plant and gathering crops you didn't cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.' "But the master replied, 'You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn't plant and gathered crops I didn't cultivate, why didn't you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.' "Then he ordered, 'Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away." (vs. 24-30)

I was surprised when I first read this parable that the master called that servant "wicked and lazy." After all, it doesn't say he was an axe murderer or a freeloader, right? It seems he just played it extra safe with his portion of money. Does that really make him "wicked and lazy?"

Maybe I could understand the "lazy" label because he just buried it and left it there. That doesn't take much effort compared to opening a savings account or investing in stocks, mutual funds or real estate. Plus, if you invest it, you need to manage it to minimize your losses should there be a stock market crash, or mortgage loan crisis. Yes, it is easier to stash money under a mattress than try to navigate the financial world of investments.

However, what really threw me was the label "wicked" applied to him. I don't know much about investing, and I've made some financial mistakes before, but does that make me wicked in God's eyes? Since I trust whatever Jesus says is true, I asked Him to show me why this man was deemed wicked.

I realized the overall topic of this parable is personal responsibility for use of our assets. By "assets," I refer to the things God has entrusted to us like our money, time, talents, mind, body, family, etc. The clear message is that God wants us to manage these things with excellence, and if we do, we will be rewarded. If we fail to, we may be penalized.

The master, who represents God in this parable, was chastising this servant because his "asset management style" required little effort, and even less faith. What made him "wicked" was believing the whispers of the Wicked One telling him that his master was too fickle to please and would surely punish him if he tries and fails.

What displeased the master was the servant's failure to bother to try when given the assignment.

Taking responsibility for, and seeking to be productive with our assets feels risky – much like navigating the world of finance can – but that should not cause us to bury our heads in the sand. I now see that this servant let Satan back him into a corner, with fear of failure and skewed notions of God, and immobilized what could've been used to glorify God and increase His Kingdom.

So today, I purpose to use my all in service of God when He gives me an assignment, no matter how risky it feels. Otherwise, I am denying the amazing grace of God available to me, and rendering useless the gifts my Master has given me. So let's learn from this servant by refusing to remain immobilized when we're afraid to fail.

Dear Lord, help me manage my time, talent, money, body and relationships in ways that please You, and grow Your Kingdom. Deliver me from fearing of failure. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
31 Days of Prayer by Ruth Myers

Visit Rachel at her blog and tell her what task you plan to target with more effort and faith

For sound financial guidance, check out Dave Ramsey’s site

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
Make a list of answers to the questions below. Choose an area to target this month with prayer and effort.

In what areas am I just lazy and need to put forth effort?

In what areas am I purposely not trying because I'm afraid to fail?

Power Verses:
Mark 14:37b, "Stay alert, be in prayer, so you don't enter the danger zone without even knowing it. Don't be naive. Part of you is eager, ready for anything in God; but another part is as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire." (MSG)

© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the insight God gave you on this parable. I have often wondered about this parable myself. I think you are right on and I praise the Lord for showing you the truth that this man was letting satan use fear to keep him from using what God has given him. He was not stepping out in faith and believing lies about his master as I have so often done. Now, please God, help me to move forward beyond those fears recognizing Your Love and Your Presence with me each and every day. Please forgive my wickedness and lack of faith.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the devotion, fear of failure does paralyse me and many times I end up being stationery instead of moving on in faith.

Dear God, please forgive me for my weakness and lack of faith. Lord Please help me to move on, to walk with you all the time and not to remain stationery. In the neame of Jesus I rebuke all of Satan's lies that stop me from reaching your potential. Help me to always focus on you. I pray for protection, courage and confidence that comes from you.

Anonymous RK said...

This also can be stated that God wants us to spread and share His word to other people,some people have His word but refuse or don't want to share it,instead they "bury" it and keep it to themselves.There are so many lost souls out in the world,I know you all know of at least one--reach out to that child of God and bring them back into the"fold" of God.
We all have his Word, let us all invest it wisely,if we share it we won't lose it,and He most certainly won't let us fail!
In God we trust, AMEN

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

. I know im not trusting God with my life. I have been listing to the lies of satin who is filling my life with fear and in the process leaving me completly disabled! However i know i serve a mighty "God" who can shut doors noone can open and open doors noone can shut. I believe this is why the servent was called lazy and wicked Because he didn't believe God's word and didn't act upon it either! God help me to believe today that i nolonger will live a life of "fear" but will become an "overcomer," in Crist's name i pray amen. and amen ksn.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so grateful for this devotion today. My son is struggling with school, and he is BRILLIANT! His talent is knowledge, but he is afraid to put himself out there. I will be sharing this devotion with him this evening, and have more focus for my prayers for him!
RV in MN

Anonymous Kathi Bloy said...

A friend told me several years ago that she sensed fear of failure in me. I've grown a lot since them, but this fear still rears its ugly head. Your devotion meant so much to me that I printed out the prayer to hang above my computer. That has become my place of "employment" since losing my job and feeling led to freelance from home.

Anonymous Kathi Bloy said...

So I took a step of faith, but forgot to proofread before hitting Publish, and left a typo. I'm feeling like a "lazy" servant! Thank you for the lesson, Lord.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am person who has buried her head in the sand. I just didn't want to deal with the painful truth of my financial situation. Now, I'm asking God to intervene and help me deal with the consequences of avoidance. I know God is faithful even when we act unreasonable due to fear and anxiety.

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