Going for the Real Win
This is an excerpt from the men's Bible study The Real Win by Colt McCoy and Matt Carter.
The real win in this life is built on two simple ideas: whom you serve and whom you trust. Men can find authentic success in life only when they commit to serve God and trust Him.
But what does that actually mean for guys like us? What does it look like to serve God every day? Why should we trust Him, and how do we go about it?
Faithful in small things
In the Bible a good place to start exploring the concept of serving God is Jesus' parable of the talents in Matthew 25. If you're not familiar with that story, a rich guy went on a long journey. Before he left, he gave different sums of money to three of his servants in order to keep his business rolling. The first guy got five talents, the second guy got two talents, and the third guy got one talent. A talent was payment for six thousand days of work, so each servant received a lot of money.
The first two servants immediately got to work and started investing the money they'd been given. But the third servant took a different approach. He decided to hide the money by digging a hole and burying it.
Here's what happened next.
After a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, "Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more." His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master" (Matthew 25:19-21).
Notice that the word faithful pops up a couple times. That's an important concept to keep in mind when it comes to serving God.
The second servant got the same praise as the first one. But the third didn't fare so well. He dug up the talent he'd been given, wiped off the dirt, and brought it back. He said he'd been afraid because the master was a "hard man" (v. 24), and he didn't want to risk losing anything. So he'd done nothing with the money. Not surprisingly, the master wasn't impressed.
His master answered him, "You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 25:26-30).
What's the difference between the first two servants and the third servant? Faithfulness. The first two servants had been given resources, and they faithfully served their master by using those resources to do the work their master wanted done. The third servant focused on himself rather than his master. He didn't want to work; he didn't want to take risks. So he did nothing. He was unfaithful.
Here's the point: authentic success in this life means being faithful with the little things God gives us. We find the real win by serving God and doing His work with whatever resources we've got.
Notice how the first two servants were rewarded. When they faithfully served with a few resources, they were given more resources - not to get fat and happy with but to continue serving and doing their master's work on a larger scale.
The same can be true of us. When we're faithful to serve God with whatever He's given us, He will give us greater opportunities to serve faithfully and do the work of His kingdom.
Faithful at all times
Here's the bad news: it won't be smooth sailing for any of us. We'll all go through tough times and difficult circumstances - even if we're serving God.
If you don't agree, just look at the life of the apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 he described some of the hardships he'd been through in his efforts to serve God and spread the gospel message. He did the right thing, yet he still faced all kinds of adversity. The same will be true for us.
The big challenge for us as men is to continue faithfully serving God even when things get tough. We need to keep working and keep the right focus even when challenges knock us down, even when we feel disappointed or discouraged, and even when we don't understand what's going on.
When we can serve God and be faithful with the little things despite the troubles in our lives, we'll hear the same words the first two servants heard.
Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master (Matt. 25:23).
That's the real win.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2000, 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.