Today someone expressed that old adage to me, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” A voice inside me said, “No it’s not.” I thought about where that voice was coming from. Then I realized it was Jesus.
In his “Parable of the Talents” (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus described how a man of means, before going on a long journey, distributed “talents” (each worth as much as half a million dollars) to three trusted associates for them to invest in his absence. On his return, he found that the most senior associate had turned five talents into ten, while the second had turned two into four. They were both commended: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But the third followed a more careful strategy, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Afraid of his Master’s anger if he were to lose the one talent entrusted to him, he decided to take no risks and hid it in a safe place. When he proudly presented the talent to his Master, he was greeted with, “You wicked and lazy servant!” The Master’s answer to the it’s-better-to-be-safe-than-sorry approach was,”No it’s not; this unwise servant will be both safe and sorry.”
Some people are natural risk-takers. They’ll try anything, even challenges that seem far beyond their capabilities. Sometimes they act in a way that is foolhardy and can cause harm to themselves or others. But most of us err in the other direction, shrinking from opportunities to stretch, to expand horizons, to blaze new trails or be creative. God has given us a talent, and we have carefully hidden it away for safe-keeping.
If you see in yourself the tendency to be one of these safe-and-sorry believers, don’t give up on yourself. There’s still a chance for you to become a more courageous investor of the talent(s) God has entrusted to you. It involves a new resolve and a deep change within you, but it’s possible, no matter how old you may be and how long you’ve spent being safe and sorry.
The Apostle Peter uses a very graphic phrase to describe the action you need to take:
“Gird up the loins of your minds, discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ is bringing you.” (1 Peter 1:13)
“Gird up your loins” is a very macho way of saying “Prepare for action.” In Jesus’ day, a soldier going into battle would gather his skirt up between his legs and tie it off at his waist. This would maximize his mobility for the hand-to-hand contact he would be facing. Peter says we should do this with our “minds.” You may have been mentally indulgent and out of shape, but the challenge before you is going to require you to be more rigorous and disciplined, to gird up the loins of your mind.
Are you up to it? You’re probably feeling a lot of self-doubt right now. Peter has a remedy for that in the second half of the verse:
“. . . set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ is bringing you.”
The ability to deliver on your new decision will not depend on your determination, bravery or follow-through; it will come entirely from the grace he is bringing you. That’s your only hope, and that’s the only hope you need.
Say Goodbye to the old safe-and-sorry you and Hello to the new well-done-faithful-servant you.
— Pastor George Van Alstine