Members of a youth group once stood on a tall cliff overlooking the water, debating the merits of jumping off or not. One by one they crept to the edge, curling their toes into the dirt as the dizzying height revealed itself. One by one they backed away. Suddenly from the back came a whoop and cry, and one of the youngest girls from the group streaked past them and shot out into space. There was silence…gasps…a giant splash…and then a smiling face bobbing up in the waters below. By the time she could finish waving, the rest of the group was airborne.
Of all the de-motivators in the world, fear is the perhaps the greatest. When fear grabs hold, it can choke out initiative, quell industriousness, and paralyze us into inactivity. Yet wherever someone can break the stranglehold of fear, whole new seasons of joy and freedom ensue for everyone. Jesus told a parable about a man who entrusted staggering amounts of money to some of his servants, so that they could handle his business while he was away. A couple of the stewards took a risk and invested the man’s money, doubling the wealth in the process. The other, however, was afraid of “letting his master down” and simply buried the money in the ground until he returned. The master was displeased with the fearful servant, and sent him away with nothing to show for his fearfulness.
Matthew shares this parable to remind the church that being a steward of Christ’s kingdom can be a risky business, but the cost of succumbing to fear is infinitely higher.