Much is required
When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. – Luke 12:48
1 I was serving the king his wine. I had never before appeared sad in his presence.
2 So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.” Then I was terrified,
3 but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
4 The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” With a prayer to the God of heaven,
5 I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”
6 The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will you be gone? When will you return?” After I told him how long I would be gone, the king agreed to my request.
7 I also said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let me have letters addressed to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, instructing them to let me travel safely through their territories on my way to Judah.
8 And please give me a letter addressed to Asaph, the manager of the king’s forest, instructing him to give me timber. I will need it to make beams for the gates of the Temple fortress, for the city walls, and for a house for myself.” And the king granted these requests because the gracious hand of God was on me.
In 1947, due to the risk of a nuclear attack, the Presidential Succession Act was enacted to maintain continuity of government. Henceforth, a designated survivor was identified in the presidential line of succession. When the president and other officials in the line of succession gather in one place, this person is secured in a distant, undisclosed location. If a catastrophic event kills the President and the other high-ranking officials, the designated survivor becomes the President of the United States.
In the TV series, Designated Survivor, Kiefer Sutherland plays Thomas Kirkman, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He has been chosen as the designated survivor and suddenly ascends to the office of President of the United States. Kirkman is thrust into the most important job on earth. Much is required.
How does the Father prepare us to take on responsibility? Simple, He gives us responsibility. As we grow and learn to faithfully carry out our responsibilities, we grow into the “job.” He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much (Luke 16:10). The Father’s strategy is always the same. He knows in advance what He has planned for our lives and how we will go about accomplishing it. He provides us with the natural talent, life experiences, and spiritual gifts we need to get the job done.
Some children of the King have little ability, status, training, or talent.
1 Corinthians 1:26 Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters. Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position.
Other children of the King have much. Paul was given an overabundance of ability, brainpower, spiritual insight, revelation, and the drive to accomplish all that he was required to do. By the grace of God, he was empowered and accomplished much.
4 I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!
5 I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin– a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law.
6 . . . And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.
1 Corinthians 15:10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me – and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.
REFLECT & PRAY
How did Paul do what he did? He learned the open secret of the power of complete submission to the Father. Paul focused on his weaknesses, rather than on his strengths. In weakness, he became strong in the Father’s power and authority (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Father thank You that you have made me weak that I find strength in You.
Nehemiah was the cupbearer of Artaxerxes king of Persia. His high-ranking position afforded him frequent access to the king. Nehemiah heard about the dismal conditions of Jerusalem from visitors to the land of Judah. He began to pray that the Father would grant him favor before the king and allow him to restore Jerusalem and its walls. Nehemiah’s prayer is a model for all children of the King to follow (Nehemiah 1:5-11). He prayed for four months. During that time, the Father placed a plan regarding Jerusalem into his heart (Nehemiah 2:12). Nehemiah undoubtedly thought through what steps of action were needed to carry out the Father’s plan.
Finally, the big day came, after four months Nehemiah got his chance. He entered into the king’s presence. King Artaxerxes saw how gloomy and dejected Nehemiah was. He inquired about it. Nehemiah poured out his heart to the king. He was sad because of the decimated condition of Jerusalem and its walls. Then he popped the big question. He asked for permission to leave Susa and journey to Jerusalem and restore it. The king had only one question, “How long will you be gone?” Artaxerxes granted his request and supplied what was necessary. He provided protection, all the timber he needed from the royal forests, and royal passes guaranteeing safe travel to Jerusalem.
Nehemiah provides two key insightful cameos regarding his experience. First, although he had been praying for months, when it came time to answer the King’s question, Nehemiah made a flash-prayer, a quickie for insight and the words to speak before he answered (Nehemiah 2:4). Second, Nehemiah let it be known that his prayers were answered because the gracious hand of the Father was on him (Nehemiah 2:8).
Humanly speaking, the Father dumped the truck on Nehemiah all at once. Nehemiah had no training for such a task. He had never been to wall reconstruction school. His preparation consisted of his deeply personal relationship with the Father and a consistent walk of faith that honored Him and the people that he served. His preparation was a life well-lived before the Father and man. The Father gave him responsibility and he rose to the occasion one brick at a time.
Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
In the Father’s kingdom, on-the-job training may take a large portion of a person’s life. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David are examples from the Old Testament. For extended portions of their lives, they were isolated, unproductive, and experienced life-threatening dilemmas. Others such as Daniel seem to have been born ready.
When the Father entrusts His children with high-octane abilities and responsibilities, far greater expectations are placed upon them and they are held to a higher standard.
Too often we offer the Father excuses for our unwillingness to respond in faith: self-doubt, inadequacy, lack of skill or preparation, and fear. But the Father already has an answer prepared to encourage each child of the King to follow His lead.
Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.
Take away: “It is possible to move men through God by prayer alone” (Hudson Taylor).