Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 22, 1966
NUMBER 33, PAGE 10c-11a

"I Can't"

Ercel (Ray) Warren

How many times a week is this said regarding the performance of one or more of the responsibilities laid upon us by the Lord? It seems that more, and more Christians continue to take up this habit. These persons, unfortunately, seem to feel very secure behind this veneer of excuse, and proceed to zealously (?) do nothing; all the time vowing that they are doing all they can.

These persons have done either of two things: (1) they have never read Matthew 25:14-30, or (2) having read it, they have closed their eyes and ears to the teaching. Thus, they continue to have the "great feeling of security" (the same type the "one talent" man had, whatever that was.) which comes only from knowing you are doing His will.

Notice the "one-talent" man's actions in accomplishing the fulfillment of the obligation (responsibility) laid upon him by his lord:

(1) He received the one talent according to his several ability (vs. 15).

This "talent" was not his ability, because it was given him "according to his ability". This talent was some of the Lord's (Jesus Christ's) goods which pertain to the "kingdom of heaven" (vs.14). So all the statements offered by men in the form of excuses, which confuse these terms, are to no avail.

(2) He made good use of his Lord's money, doing the best he could, of course, but you know what they say, "Everyone just isn't as talented as some." What did he do then?

"But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money" (vs. 18).

Yes, he, like many today, just didn't know how to do anything, so he did nothing, feeling the whole time that he was justified in the sight of the Lord.

Did he think of his having to give account to his Lord? Did his mind even begin to conceive the consequences of his actions (or should we say his lack of actions)? Is it possible that he did think about it, and in spite of mixed emotions, still did nothing? Perhaps he thought the Lord wouldn't return or that before he returned he would get around to doing something.

"Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and maketh a reckoning with them." (vs.19)

The one-talent man had thought about it enough to be prepared to...

"And he also that had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter; and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast thine own."

How proud he must have been, so sure of himself... 'Lord aren't you proud of me? Why, I've done nothing wrong (overt wrong, immorality---etc.), and you have your own!" Can't you just picture an expectance of some reward? Certainly he didn't expect this:

"But his lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I did not scatter; thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest. Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents. For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away. And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth." (vs. 26-30).

Now is not that a terrific reward? Yet, that is exactly what he got.

"For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Horn, 6:23).

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing." (Jas. 1:22-25; cf. Jas. 2:14-26).

"To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (Jas. 4:17). Unless we bear good fruits, we are going to be lost! (Matt. 3:10, 7:19; Lk.13:7,9; 3:9; Matt. 13:23; Jno. 15:1-8; Col. 1: 10).

Persons relying on statements such as "I can't," are missing the mark of the high calling which we seek. Notice Paul's statement,

"Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:13,14).

The Lord has never expected greatness, but he always expects faithfulness of his servants (I Cor. 4: 2), We should never depend upon our own abilities, because we are to walk by faith, NOT by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). We ought to know better, than to think we have any power in effecting the success of the gospel (Rom. 1:16, 17); it is always God who provided the increase (I Cor. 3:6,7).

Let us cease making excuses, and say with Paul, "I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13). If we can do this, we, like Paul, can say, "For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing." (2 Tim. 4:6-8)

I know it is an awesome thing to consider "having to give an account of our stewardship," but think about that of being cast out!

Well, what do you say? I can, or I CAN'T?