A couple of weeks ago, the Lord woke me up very early on a Sunday morning. I hadn’t been dreaming and I had no overwhelming feeling of His presence or power resting on me. What it actually felt like was a very ordinary moment in a completely quiet house at 4 a.m.
I turned my lamp on, picked up my bible and flipped through it, stopping in Matthew at the Parable of the Talents. Immediately, I knew this was what He meant for me to read. I assumed He was giving me a word for collecting the offering at church, one of the duties of being on the pastoral team.
It wasn’t about money though. And it wasn’t the message I’ve heard preached multiple times before about people using their spiritual gifts for the kingdom.
A year ago, when God called me out of comfortable Christianity and trapped revival in my bones, everything changed. It was as if the world and the walk I knew was suddenly viewed through fire-tinted glasses. Every injustice and every darkness I saw on the news just cried out the need for revival. The lukewarm church has been comfortable in bathwater religion for too long and the water is growing colder by the minute. Soon they will all seek heat or freeze. We are a nation poised and desperate for the fire of God.
The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) tells a story of a master who left his possessions to his servants while he went away for a time. To the first, he left five talents. This servant was faithful to work with what he had been given and double it. The second servant was left with two talents, and he was also faithful to double his portion. The third servant was left one talent which he buried in the ground and did not double or even collect interest on. So when the master returned, he had nothing to give back except what he had been given. He was scolded and cast away.
I’ve always read this and dismissed the third, slothful servant as the other Christians. You know the kind, the Christmas and Easter church goers that identify with Christianity to the extent of their Facebook status but not beyond it. I was wrong.
The word “servant” or “slave” in this parable actually comes from the Greek word doulos. It is referring to believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as His devoted followers. It is the very same word used in Joel 2:29 and Acts 2:18, in reference to the servants who would have the Spirit poured out on them. It is a word used with great honor throughout the New Testament to refer to followers like Peter and Paul and Timothy. The parable is, in short, a story of the burning ones.
This realization alarmed me. I immediately began to scour the Strong’s Concordance to learn what the living word of God was conveying in this hour. And then I heard it. It’s revival.
A talent isn’t actually an amount of money. It’s a measurement of weight equivalent to about 130 pounds. And while the ESV says the master distributed the talents based on each man’s personal ability, the original text more descriptively says the distribution was based on each man’s private strength.
Being a forerunner to revival is not for the faint of heart. It’s a heavy weight of something hugely important and immeasurably precious. The cry for repentance cannot come from a mouth that hasn’t already cried out to God its own repentance. It takes a passion grown in the secret place to be able to carry this weight. It takes a deeply rooted yearning for clean hands and a pure heart. It takes a private strength only truly known by the Master. He distributes accordingly.
This parable is a promise. Each treasured weight of outpouring placed in the hands of a faithful servant will be multiplied. Those who are willing to sacrifice their agendas and give up their plans to host His presence will see a great increase. Those who recognize that He is not doling out useless currency will get an opportunity to serve Him. Seeing the value of who He is and what He intends to do, they will go at once to make the most of what He gives them.
These servants were not competing to be the best servant or the most noticed. They did not do anything for their own personal gain. There was no confusion about who owned the riches. Even the profit they earned was presented with only one hope: to enter into His joy. Man cannot own revival because man cannot create revival. It is truly a bestowment of a wealthy master willing to trust us with His presence. No part of it belongs to us, even if we are so fortunate to see it multiply while in our possession.
What we do with it is up to us. We can act on it immediately, making His work our identity, pleasing our Father and treasuring His love and awesome power. The result of this is to share in His joy, to see a world transformed and the body revived.
Or we can bury it in the ground and sit on it.
See, this parable is also a warning. A sad ratio of the servants of God will not recognize revival when it is handed to them. Perhaps they will be embittered that their brother received a heavier measure than them. Perhaps they will think themselves above the required humility or they won’t want the mess. Perhaps they will be distracted by the demands of the world and accidentally let their good intentions expire. Maybe they just have the wrong idea of what God looks like and are too hard-hearted to see Him for who He really is.
It could be that they just believe the lie of the enemy saying they aren’t worthy. They become disabled by the idea that what they do might not please their Master. They believe Him to be hard and unfair because they have settled for a small view of a very big and great God. So they pass by the small opportunities to spread revival, the ones that come in grocery stores and the back row of sanctuaries, the opportunities that aren’t glamorous. They give up and think they will just stay comfortable and saved, lest they step out and make a mistake.
Regardless of the reason, any buried measure of His presence is a wasted opportunity to grow this desperately needed move of God.
It’s not too late. If you buried your measure, dig it up now. Don’t delay. Treat it as a right and a treasure and forsake everything to make it grow. If you are already multiplying what He’s given you, carry on.
He’s coming back soon. And I don’t know about you, but I want more than anything to hear those words: Well done, my good and faithful servant. Well done.