“And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luke 12:47, N.K.J.V.)
It’s one thing when you honestly don’t know what to do about a situation. It’s another thing when you know what to do but choose not to do it. That second category is the one to which our text verse applies.
The verse comes on the heels of a parable that Jesus offers about stewardship. In Bible times, a steward was a servant who was placed in charge of managing his master’s household goods and distributing provisions to the rest of the servant staff. The main character trait the job required was faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:2). Not only did a steward need to be faithful to his master, he also needed to be faithful in the performance of his duty toward his fellow servants.
In Jesus’ parable, a steward’s master goes away for an undetermined amount of time, leaving the steward in charge of the estate. At that point the steward can respond to the assignment in one of two ways. Option 1: He can carry out his duty faithfully. Option 2: He can use his delegated power to turn himself into a little dictator that enriches his own life while making life miserable for his fellow servants.
While the steward gets to choose his course of action, he doesn’t get to choose the consequences of his choice. The returning master will see to those. If the steward is found faithful when the master returns, the steward will be rewarded handsomely by way of a promotion (verses 43 and 44). But if the steward is not found faithful, he will be punished severely, even to the point of being put to death (verses 45 and 46).
Immediately following the parable, Jesus explains that any servant who knows his master’s will but doesn’t do it will be punished. Jesus metaphorically describes the punishment as involving “stripes” (verse 47). Why is the punishment so harsh? It’s because knowing what you are supposed to do brings major accountability. You see, having a knowledge of God’s will can be dangerous thing if you don’t do that will.
So let’s say that you are right now in the midst of a difficult situation, and let’s also say that God has revealed to you what He wants you to do about it. My question to you is simply, “Have you done what God told you to do?” If you have, then stop stressing out about the situation. Quit worrying. After all, you’ve done the best you could do. I mean, you don’t think that you could have done any better than God’s will about the situation, do you? For that matter, since God rewards obedience, you should be in line for some kind of a promotion. That is what the parable teaches.
Ah, but what if you haven’t done what God told you to do? Oh, well, now we’re on another subject. My question to you would be, “What’s stopping you from doing what you know to do?” Perhaps it’s fear. Perhaps it’s procrastination. Perhaps it’s outright rebellion. Perhaps it’s something else.
Whatever the case may be, just take this post as a warning that it’s high time that you got God’s job done. Until you do, you are a steward who has been handed an important assignment — the doing of God’s will — and you are failing miserably at that assignment. And, unfortunately for you, if your disobedience continues there will be some “stripes” in your future. You say, “Russell, you are just trying to scare me.” Yes, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. It’s better that you heed my word of warning and do what God has told you to do than it is for you to suffer the consequences when your Master inspects your work and finds it lacking.