When you live in a fear-based and fault-finding culture, whether it is your home or your church, it is hard to find joy. In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, one of the servants hid his talent because he saw his master as a hard and demanding person, “reaping where he did not sow”. He returned the talent intact because he was afraid to lose any part of it. That wasn’t good enough. He was cast out and condemned.

The others who received talents doubled the return on what the master had given them. Their reward was even more responsibility. “To whom much is given, much is demanded” is part of the explanation given in this parable.

When you work well, more is expected of you. If you don’t work at all you are condemned. It is surprising, therefore, to realize that the last word to each of the faithful servants was “enter into the joy of your master”. Really! The last word was about joy!

Two people I have been privileged to know in the last few years really understood what this parable was about. One told me, “I have never worked harder at something nor felt so much joy than I have here.” The other told me, “I work with many different non-profit groups, but this is the only place where people remember to tell me thanks.” They both knew they were making a difference in the lives of others. That gave them joy.

There is a unique joy that comes from investing ourselves in a way that gives results for the good of others. You will know that joy when you see the sparkle in someone’s eyes and you know you helped put it there. May your heart often sing with joy.

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