“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48b)
Every now and again, I need something to prick my conscience that I could do better or I have failed completely. It’s never an easy time. Having someone tell you things that are difficult to hear, or being reminded of tasks not done, makes me feel terrible. I feel like sliding out the door and out of sight, knowing I could have done better.
Age seems to be no barrier for these moments either. “Guilt” has a look all of its own. The list of daily tasks just for any household to run smoothly is a fair indicator of what we’re like. There are the usual daily tasks in our house like clearing the sink of dishes, either in the dishwasher or washing some by hand; hanging out or bringing in clothes; checking the mail; putting out the bins weekly for rubbish pick-up — the list goes on. But if I only do half a job — emptying the house bins into the roadside bin without putting that out for collection — then it can get pretty smelly, especially in the heat of summer. There’s nowhere to hide from a job half done. People notice, and sometimes, guilt has a way of being a good teacher.
I have often baulked at these words from Jesus because it seems unfair and almost against the grain of the gospel to hear him say that doing a “half job” in service for Him will still carry an unpleasant consequence with it. I can understand the first punishment of being totally irresponsible and “cut to pieces and assigned a place with the unbelievers” (verse 46). But what about getting beaten with many or a few blows for partial failure? Where’s grace? What about the “learning curve” of life that allows for practice creating a habit that will lead to a good outcome?
On further reflection, I realise that just being told about these situations is grace-filled. What if I faced the consequences without even knowing what I had failed to do and the impending results? I am also very thankful that Jesus has forgiven me for my failures and sin and has taken away the burden of my guilt and shame. Yet my sins of omission still need to be learned from. In this space, my prayers for the Holy Spirit to prompt me to pray, be more loving and show proper care enable God’s grace to really flow through me.
Lord, continue to teach me with love and grace about my many failings, and grant me Your forgiveness as I continue to live in this life for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.