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Buried Treasure
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By Daniel Kolenda

In Matthew 25 Jesus told a parable about a man who went on a journey to a faraway land. Before he left, he entrusted three servants with various "talents," or money. Rather than letting his money sit in a vault, the master decided to divide it among three servants so they could invest it and his fortune could increase while he was away. To the first servant, the master gave five talents; to the second servant he gave two talents; and to the third servant he gave one talent.

The first two servants invested their money wisely, and it doubled in value. The third servant was concerned about the possibility of losing his talent, so he buried it in the ground. When the master returned, it was a time of reckoning. With the first two servants, the master was very pleased; but with the third servant who buried the one talent, the master was very angry. The master called him a wicked and lazy servant. He repossessed the one talent the servant had been given and had him cast out into the darkness "where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:30, NIV).

I want you to notice the reason this servant gave for burying his talent. The servant said, "So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground" (Matthew. 25:25, NIV). He buried his talent in the ground because of fear.

Fear causes many people to bury their talents in the ground. I'm not talking about the ground in your backyard. Genesis 2:7 says God formed man from the dust of the ground—we are the ground! People bury their talents within themselves because of fear—fear of failure, fear of being mocked, fear of hard work, fear of the unknown, spirits of fear and fear of man, just to name a few.

I think one of the most tragic places you could ever visit is a cemetery, not because of the people who are buried there, but because of what is buried within the people who are buried there: books and songs that were never written, sermons that were never preached, forgiveness that was never granted, inventions that were never developed—so much potential that was never realized. So much has been buried and lost for all eternity because someone was afraid of being hurt, afraid of criticism, afraid of rejection, afraid of financial difficulty or physical danger.

Evangelist Leonard Ravenhill said author and preacher A. W. Tozer once told him, "I'm not too worried about the judgment on my Christian life. It's the things I could have done but didn't do that worry me."1 My friends, one day we are all going to stand before the Master and give an account of what He has entrusted to us. Oh that we would fear that day above all and be willing to risk everything so on that day we would not be ashamed.

Notice that the servant was cast into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Scholars disagree about whether or not this verse is referring to hell, but one thing is certain (and I think it is the main point): it is talking about deep regret, sorrow, and remorse over something that has been lost forever and can never be undone.

Many people talk about the emotions they will feel when they arrive in heaven. There are popular songs about how we will dance and be overwhelmed with joy. But many will experience a very different emotion when they arrive in heaven—regret. In that moment all of their earthly fears will seem so impotent and distant, a hazy memory, like a dream that you can’t quite remember. But the impact of those fears will be felt for eternity. It will be too late to go back and do what should have been done, and wave after wave of regret will wash over many people. No wonder Revelation 21:4 says Jesus will have to wipe the tears from their eyes.

When I was a teenager, I went on a mission's trip to England and stayed in a "host home" with a lovely British couple. I'll never forget a poster they had hanging on their wall, which reported the results of a survey given to ten groups of people. There was a group of ten-year- olds, twenty-year-olds, thirty-year-olds, all the way up to hundred-year-olds, and each was asked the same question: "What is your number one regret at this point in your life?” All the answers were interesting, some were funny, but the only answer I remember was from those who were a hundred years old. For some reason it is burned into my memory, and I can never forget it. After living a long life, they said their number one regret was that they “should have taken more risks." I determined then, as a very young man, that when I come to the end of my life, I don't want to look back and realize that I never really lived at all because I was too afraid.

To many people, fear seems to be a legitimate reason not to do something. But I want you to see that the master in Jesus's parable was not sympathetic toward the servant who buried his talent. When the servant said, "I was afraid," the master did not put his arm around him and say, "There, there, it's all right. You poor little servant. I’m sorry I put you in such an uncomfortable position." No, the master rebuked him sharply with anger and said, "You lazy servant!"

Why did the master accuse the servant of laziness? Because rather than facing his fears and taking a risk for his master's sake, he chose to take the easy path: bury the talent, stay at home and relax. If you think fear is a good excuse for not doing God's will, you'd better think again. If you want to know how to overcome your fears, there is only one way—face them! Most of the time, fear is like a mirage; as you walk toward it, it will become more and more transparent until it disappears completely. But to face your fears requires courage.

After Moses died, his protégé, Joshua, became the new leader. God promised to be with Joshua as He had been with Moses. God promised to give Joshua every place upon which the sole of his foot would tread. God promised to prosper Joshua wherever he went. But there was one requirement: "Only be strong and very courageous," the Lord said (Joshua 1:7, NKJV). Imagine you are about to embark on the most challenging undertaking of your life. You have no idea what lies before you, and then the Lord comes to you and says, “Be very courageous." That would scare me! Why? Because courage is only needed in the presence of danger. Courage is not the absence of fear. In fact, there is no courage without fear. Courage is the willingness to face fear. All the promises, victories and destiny awaiting Joshua were dependent on his willingness to face his fear.

If fulfilling God's will for our lives were just a matter of promoting our own names, reputations and personal destinies, I would say, "Don't even bother. Stay home, watch television, and enjoy a comfortable, quiet life." But we must remember that what is at stake is God's eternal kingdom! Our talent does not belong to us—it belongs to the Master. He has entrusted it into our hands. But one day He will return, and we will have to give an account for what we did with His investment.

* Parts of this article are pulled from the book: Live before You Die by Daniel Kolenda (Sanford, fl : Passio 2013)