When you’re “faithful over a few things,” the bigger things will take care of themselves
Have you ever been overwhelmed with challenges and felt your faith being tested beyond what you were able to bear? During those times, is it possible to stay faithful to God? Yes, of course. Sometimes we think of our faith in a big sweeping way. But sometimes it’s about being faithful over a few things, taking tiny little baby steps of doing what’s right in the moment.
Today we’re going to talk about how to be faithful over a few things and what that means in your daily life.
You’ve probably already recognized this phrase, “faithful over a few things,” and that it comes from a parable Jesus told about a man who gave three servants different amounts of money when he went on a long trip.
Way back in Episode 91 – Using Your God-given Talents I talked about this parable from the angle of using the talents God has given you. This time around I’m focusing on the idea of being faithful over a few things.
The Parable of the Talents
You already know it, but I’ve put it all right here. As you read, pay attention to the idea of being faithful over a few things and what those few things might be in your life.
For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.
After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’
His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’
His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. ‘So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.’
For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. Matthew 25:14-29 NKJV
How much is a talent worth?
Before we jump in to talk about this, I’ve got a question for you. Do you know how much a talent is? According to some Bible scholars a talent is equivalent to about 20 years of wages for a laborer.
At $15/hour with a 40 hour week, that’s $600/week. 50 weeks would be $30,000/year. 20 years would be $600,000. That’s a talent. That is a lot of money. Two talents is $1,200,000. Five talents is $3,000,000.
So, two of these servants were faithful with what they were given. They bought and sold, they traded, or whatever they did, but more importantly they had the right mindset. They used their wisdom and abilities to take advantage of the opportunity and doubled the value of what their master gave them.
The third servant didn’t even try. He didn’t even try. He had a mindset full of resentment, and who knows what other negative mental qualities, that stopped him from making any effort at all.
Being faithful over a few things
In looking at this parable again, did you get any insights about what it means to be faithful over a few things?
Here’s what comes to me right now. It just occurred to me that the master said to the first two servants, who were given $3,000,000 and $1,200,000 respectively, they had been faithful over a few things.
Now, I realize that $1M is not as much money as it was a generation or two ago because of inflation. But $3M, or even $1.2M, is still, in my book, not a small sum of money. So either these five and two talents were just a tiny fraction of their master’s overall wealth, or the talents are not the “few things” they were actually faithful over.
I’m not sure which of these it might be. And it could be both. So we’re going to look at each of these two possibilities.
What are the few things, money or mindset?
If these large amounts of money are just a “few things” compared to the entire wealth of the master, it means this master is enormously and inconceivably wealthy. Because these two servants wisely used the resources they were given, the implication is that they would be given much more money in the future because they could be trusted to act wisely.
And of course this is a parable about the kingdom of heaven, it’s a metaphor. To be made ruler over many things is becoming aware of the infinite resources, talents, and abilities we have in heaven, the harmony, peace, and love which cannot be measured.
This is what I talk about in Episode 91, which I mentioned a bove. When you use your God-given talents and abilities wisely, God reveals the spiritual resources He has provided you, that make even $3,000,000 seem small and insignificant.
The funny thing is we tend to think the greater things the two faithful servants get will be in heaven, way off in the future. But as I like to point out, Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is at hand. That means they will have the abundance now. This is certainly something worth being faithful over.
Be faithful over the “few things” in your heart
But what if the few things they had been faithful over weren’t about how much money they were given, but the qualities in their hearts? Their master recognized in all three servants some innate capabilities.
The first two servants were faithful to their master’s desire for them to use the money wisely, but they were also faithful to their own talents, wisdom, and common sense, not to mention their honesty. The few things they were faithful over were the mental qualities they used wisely, which allowed them to double their money.
They may not have known everything about conducting a business. They may have had doubts of their ability to succeed and fears of failure and setbacks. But that didn’t stop them from using the wisdom and knowledge they did have.
The third servant also had some innate qualities of character, which his master recognized. He could have taken that one talent and used it wisely. If he had really applied himself, he might have not just doubled, but tripled or quadrupled its value. But he was not faithful to his master or himself. He was not faithful to what he was capable of.
I’d never really thought of the parable in this way before, but this gets deeper into what Jesus is really trying to teach us.
What few t hings do you need to be faithful over?
So, how does this apply to you and me?
If the attitude in our hearts are the few things we’re supposed to be faithful over, what are the many things we’ll be made ruler over? Well, maybe it’s more trust in God, a purer faith, a deeper conviction, assurance, and awareness of God’s nearness and love. Maybe it’s a life lived more closely to Christ, helping and healing people the way Jesus did.
These are just a few possibilities. And it’s certainly worth being faithful over the affections and faith in our heart that we have right now, to be able to receive a greater abundance of spiritual gifts in our lives. And again, this is not a promise just for the future, but for the here and now of everyday living.
What are faith and faithfulness?
What does it even mean to be faithful? To keep the faith?
Who or what should we be faithful to? Well, there are lots of answers to that. We should be faithful to God and our relationship with Him. We should be faithful to following Christ, to loving our neighbor as ourselves. And that means we need to be faithful to ourselves as well and to God’s calling on our life.
Basically, it means to be true to God, yourself, and others.
So let’s come back to the question: What is faith?
In Greek the word for faith is pistis. It means conviction of the truth of something
The word faithful in Greek is pistos. It means believing, confiding, trusting, trustworthy. In the context of faith in Christ it means being convinced Jesus is the Messiah and has been raised from the dead.
These two Greek words for faith and faithful both come from the root word: peithō, which means to convince, to persuade, to be persuaded, yield to, comply with, to trust, have confidence, to be confident.
Faith is not just believing
The original meaning of the word faith does not just mean you believe something. You can believe anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. Faith means you’re aware that something is true and convinced of it. You don’t believe 2 + 2 = 4. You know it. You’re convinced it is true.
Do you believe in God because someone told you should and you just accepted what they said because they made it sound reasonable or tried to scare you about what would happen if you didn’t believe in God? Or do you have faith in God because you have felt His presence in your life or someone else’s?
The first step of faith may actually be hearing what someone else shares with you about God, or something you read in the Bible, or hear in a sermon or podcast. But at some point, we all need to make our faith our own, so to speak, to discover God for ourselves.
A student of math, whether simple arithmetic or advanced calculus, may hear a teacher explain a new concept or read about it in a text book, and it may make sense to some degree. That doesn’t mean the student actually understands the concept until they actually put it to the test in working out the problems it applies to. Then they have faith, or conviction, that the new idea works because they have put it into practice.
Putting your faith into practice
My point is, you can’t base your faith on what someone else tells you as the final destination of your faith. You need to put your faith into practice in your daily life. And the more you do so, the more your faith grows.
That is being faithful over a few things. In other words, start where you are, however large of small your faith may be, and live it. This will make you ruler over many things, to use the language of the parable.
faith without works is dead. James 2:26 NKJV
The opposite is also true, faith with works, or practicing your faith, is life.
God is faithful
One of the definitions of faithful is trustworthy. That is certainly something to strive for.
The wonderful thing is that we are not trying to be trustworthy in a vacuum. God also is faithful, trustworthy, to us.
Paul reminds the church in Corinth,
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9 NKJV
God is faithful. That is so encouraging.
And he says, referring to God in
He who calls you is faithful, 1 Thessalonians 5:24 NKJV
There’s that idea of God calling you again.
In writing to Timothy, Paul also makes it clear that Jesus is faithful.
If we are unfaithful,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny who he is. 2 Timothy 2:13 NLT
Even if we blow it. Even if our faith fails, Jesus is remains faithful. That is very comforting!
Since God and Jesus are faithful to us and to who they are, it gives us a secure foundation on which to build our faith and faithfulness.
What not to be faithful to
It’s also important to think about what we should not be faithful to.
All too often we are personally attached to and cling faithfully to our own opinions and preconceptions, tradition just for tradition’s sake. We’re cling to our past, our own abilities or weaknesses, our fears and doubts. The list goes on and on.
When we’re faithful to these things, and there are usually more than just a few, to some degree, we squeeze God right out of our hearts.
From time to time, we need to take an honest look at what we’re thinking and saying.
Are you defending the way things were done in the past even though they’re no longer timely? Are you making excuses for not doing what you know you should do? Are you insisting things have to be done a certain way, even though there may be a better approach?
Well, it just might be time to have less faith in these personal perspectives and be more faithful to your ability to listen for and obey God’s guidance in the moment.
Just like those first two servants who were “good and faithful” we need to have the right mindset of using the wisdom, love, and commons sense God has given us. We need to be faithful to who God created us to be as His image and likeness. And we need to be faithful to what God has called us to do. And in doing that we will be faithful to God in the process.
When challenges come up
But then of course, challenges come up. We feel our faith is challenged, sometimes severely and it may seem like we’ve lost our faith, or most of it.
I have certainly felt that way at times, when it seemed like problems just kept piling up and even though I was praying, I saw no answers or solutions for long periods of time. This can be pretty disconcerting.
But actually, in hindsight, I can see these were growing times.
Some of my faith was not built on solid ground. I had believed certain things just because someone else told me that’s what I should believe. It was really a kind of superficial faith. It wasn’t really faith at all, it was blind hope, or blind belief in something, but it was never really faith. It had to go.
And those dark, challenging times helped me to see that, and build a stronger faith on what God was revealing to me instead of what people were telling me.
How to stay faithful over a few things
So how do we stay faithful, over a few things or many things?
There are lots of things I’ve found helpful. First and foremost I’d say gratitude is crucial. Be grateful for how God has blessed you, is blessing you right now, and how God will bless you in the future. Gratitude helps us focus on what comes from God. Isn’t that what faith is all about?
How do we stay faithful?
Pray, listen for God’s voice. Study the Bible. Let it speak to you. Listen for what the Holy Spirit reveals to you through the Bible. Have a conversation with the Bible. And sometimes it’s helpful to be in a community where you can talk about your discoveries in the Scriptures with others.
You have to be discerning on this. You don’t want to get involved with any modern day Pharisees and legalists who try to squeeze the Bible into a tiny little box.
Follow Jesus one step at a time
Another way to be faithful over a few things is to follow Jesus’s teachings to the best of your ability. Go through the Sermon on the Mount, and see what speaks to you. What calls out to you to live more faithfully in your life. Is it walking the extra mile with someone. Is it getting the log out of your own eye before you try to straighten out someone else’s problems? Is it loving and forgiving those who have harmed you?
What are the “few things” in your life God is asking you to be faithful over? Is it to use the love in your heart and be more loving? Is it to use the wisdom God has given you to make decisions at home, at work, school, or church?
What are those special gifts God has given you? Focus on using them more frequently. All too often we focus on the things we’re not good at and try to improve those areas of our lives. There’s a time a place for that, but we need to bring out the talents and abilities we have, which come from God, and use them, expand them, and multiply them.
It’s not enough just to love Jesus, we need to obey and follow him. We need to do what he asks us to. And we do that by practicing what he has taught us.
Being faithful over a few things is not so much a final destination. It’s the way we journey one step of faith at a time on the path of life. Each step leads to the next. Our faith grows and we are made rulers over many things. And then, from His infinite abundance of grace, love, and goodness, God gives us immeasurable gifts of the Spirit.
And we hear the voice from heaven saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
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Matthew 25:14-29 NKJV
14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.
15 “And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.
16 “Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.
17 “And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.
18 “But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.
19 “After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’
21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
22 “He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’
23 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
25 ‘And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
16 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.
17 ‘So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.
28 ‘Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.
James 2:26 NKJV
26 faith without works is dead
1 Corinthians 1:9 NKJV
9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Thessalonians 5:24 NKJV
24 He who calls you is faithful,
2 Timothy 2:13 NLT
13 If we are unfaithful,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny who he is.