Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?…
Our Lord here applies his teaching about the suddenness of the advent of the unforeseen judgment to the conduct of his servants. In view of the possibility of being called to account at any moment, what manner of men should we be? Jesus gives us contrasted pictures of two very different servants as they are found at his coming, and of their consequent fate.
I. THE FAITHFUL AND WISE SERVANT.
1. His character. No doubt his known fidelity and wisdom furnish the reasons for his appointment to an important office.
(1) The first requisite is fidelity. Our business is not to please ourselves, but to serve our Master.
(2) The second requisite is wisdom. This is more than acuteness of intellect. It is a moral faculty, the right use of the intellect.
2. His trust.
(1) A post of responsibility. God is the supreme Lord, yet he grants to the several provinces of his kingdom a considerable measure of" home-rule." He does not humiliate by driving us like cattle; he gives us scope for the exercise of our powers and the proof of our fidelity.
(2) A post of useful service. The servant is to provide food for the household. He is a steward of the previsions of the family. God trusts his servants to feed his family. If they are unfaithful, the children will starve.
3. His conduct. He simply does what is required of him. His Master finds him "so doing." He is not expected to devise novelties of self-willed service. He cannot exceed his duty. But it is enough if he does it. Christ looks for simple obedience - service according to his will.
4. His reward. This is in the form of promotion. The faithful servant is to serve still, but in a higher position. God does not reward service by granting idleness or selfish indulgence in luxury, which would mean no reward to the true servant. As it is a great honour to be permitted to serve, it cannot be a reward to be set aside from further service; the great reward is just the privilege of larger service.
II. THE EVIL SERVANT.
1. His excuse. "My lord tarrieth." This is but a thought of his heart, yet it bears fatal fruit in his life, Evidently the miserable man is an "eye servant." He has no sense of duty, no interest in his work. A lazy, dishonourable slave, he will not work if he can escape. The very delay of his master, which is meant to enlarge his honourable trust, he seems to regard as a mark of indifference, as though he would blame his lord for apparently neglecting the household. Here we see the hypocrisy of which the man is accused later.
2. His vile conduct.
(1) Cruelty. He beats his fellow servants. He abuses his position of trust. Instead of feeding the household, he flogs it. The very power that was given to him for good uses he turns to evil. The shepherd has become a wolf. So has it been in the Church of Christ with men in high office.
(2) Intemperance. The man is tyrannical and ill-tempered, because he is weak and self-indulgent. No men are at heart so cold and cruel as those who live for their own pleasures. Selfishness and sensuality lead directly to hardness and harshness in dealing with other people. All this is essentially degrading. The honoured steward becomes the boon companion of low drunkards.
3. His shock of surprise. Because his lord tarried, he began to think he should never be called to account. He was the more amazed and confounded with the sudden advent of his master. Christ will come in judgment to men who never expect him.
4. His awful doom. To such a man, and not to the abandoned outcast, Christ threatens the most fearful punishment. The professed servant of God, the man in trust and honour who abuses his privileges, will be the victim of the direst wrath of Heaven. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?